|----- Original Message -----0
From: Sherry Swiney
To: PATRICK Crusade
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2004 1:04 PM
Subject: [patrickcrusade] (phadp.org) Response to Lethal Injection Article in the Tuscaloosa News.
I am sure we will hear from anyone in this group who has a medical background who can answer one of the questions posed by the author of the letter below. Excellent letter and I hope it moves a lot of people to tell the state stop the killing in our name.
----- Original Message -----=20
An Open Letter in Response to the Tuscaloosa New's Article
by Anna Maria Della Costa Regarding Lethal Injection
As a concerned citizen and a witness to the second execution by lethal injection in the State of Alabama, I am deeply troubled by the state's assertion that they haven=92t had any problems with the five executions by lethal injection. They seem to be saying these executions were "perfect". I must strongly disagree with that assertion.
Michael Eugene Thompson was killed by the State of Alabama March 13, 2003. He was the second man in Alabama killed by lethal injection. As one of his witnesses, I was driven to the prison by guards around 5 PM. We sat at the prison gate for more than 30 minutes being told, "there is a delay". When I was finally escorted into the witness room, I sat beside Michael's spiritual advisor, David Coker. When I asked David what was wrong (needless to say I was very concerned for Michael), I was told that they could not find a vein. According to David, Michael lay strapped to that gurney for almost one hour while they stuck him with needles trying to find a vein. I can testify and the records will show that his execution did not start until 6:37. He was strapped down and they began to prepare for a 6 PM execution well before 6 PM. I would hope the prison records would indicate exactly what time it was, but my guess is 5:30 965:45 PM. David Coker was only feet away from the gurney in another room and could hear everything being said. He heard them call someone and ask for permission to have the catheter surgically inserted. Neither of us knows what happened then, but before someone could do that, someone found a vein.
I will gladly tell anyone that it "appeared" to be painless. It "appeared" that he went to sleep, but as we all know he didn't. He died.
Michael's family and friends will never know if this death was painless for him. We do know it was NOT painless for any of us.
What do we know about lethal injection? Three drugs are used. The first one is Sodium Pentathal, an ultra short-acting drug. It acts within minutes to make the brain unconscious. From that point on it begins to wear off. Depending on the dosage, the individual may wake up within three to four minutes. According to Brian Corbett with the Attorney General's office, Alabama gives two syringes of Sodium Pentathal of 50cc's each. Only a doctor can tell us how long or how effective this dosage is in keeping a man over 200 pounds asleep.
The second drug is called Pavulon. It acts at the point where the nerves weaken the muscles, and it causes an over stimulation of the muscles so you get muscles twitching all over the body. The muscles are then completely flaccid and unable to move. This drug paralyzes you. The drug will act for about ten minutes, but if given in much larger doses it can act longer. Alabama administers 50cc's of this in syringe number 3.
Evidence exists that the sedative (Sodium Pentathol) is rendered ineffective by the muscle-paralyzing drug, Pavulon, which means that the inmate can be awake but paralyzed as he feels the final killing drug coursing through his body. Pavulon cannot be used to euthanize animals in twenty states because it was found "inhumane".
The final drug used is called Potassium Chloride. We use that drug to stop the heart beating, never to start again.
If the person is not unconscious from the Sodium Pentathol, he could suffer a heart attack, while suffocating. But we will never know it because he will be paralyzed throughout the execution from the Pavulon.
These drugs have not been tested for use in killing people. What we are really doing is experimenting on human beings, much like the German doctors did in the concentration camps. There is a strong possibility the person is being subjected to excruciating pain.
I call on the State of Alabama to open the records on
Michael Thomspon's execution. I ask them to prove their assertions that
On behalf of Michael Thompson who can no longer speak for himself