Death row inmate’s lawsuit dismissed, can be amended and refiled

Info sought on method  of execution

“My office stands ready to furnish whatever information a court of law deems the defendant might be entitled to, provided that the court takes needed steps to ensure the safety of the public, the victims and prison staff.” Buddy Caldwell, state attorney general

A Baton Rouge state judge Friday dismissed a petition by a lawyer for death row inmate Christopher Sepulvado that was seeking details of how the state plans to execute the convicted child killer.

Judge William Morvant added, however, that the lawyer could re-file the same petition if he lists Sepulvado as the plaintiff. The attorney, Gary C. Clements, listed himself as the plaintiff, but maintained that he had filed the petition on Sepulvado’s behalf.

“We are very pleased with the judge’s ruling in favor of the state today,” Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said in a written statement. “My office stands ready to furnish whatever information a court of law deems the defendant might be entitled to, provided that the court takes needed steps to ensure the safety of the public, the victims and prison staff.”

Sepulvado also seeks the plans in a pending federal court case that spared him an execution that had been scheduled for Wednesday.

E. Wade Shows, an attorney for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, said Friday the state will not be able to schedule a new execution date for Sepulvado for at least 30 to 45 days. Shows said that delay will be necessary even if the state wins an appeal of a federal judge’s order blocking Sepulvado’s execution until after he receives and studies the records sought by Clements.

U.S. District Judge James J. Brady issued an order Thursday that prohibits the state from executing Sepulvado until after corrections officials provide execution plans he can review. Those plans also include information on the state’s supply of pentobarbital for Sepulvado’s lethal injection.

Brady’s order was issued the same day a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Sepulvado’s previously filed request for a stay of execution. That decision was made by Circuit Judges Jerry E. Smith, of Houston; Leslie H. Southwick, of Jackson, Miss.; and Shreveport resident Carl E. Stewart, chief of the 5th Circuit.

Sepulvado, 69, of DeSoto Parish, was convicted in 1993 for the 1992 beating and scalding murder of his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Allen Mercer.

Caldwell said Thursday in an emailed statement that his office will ask the 5th Circuit to overturn Brady’s decision to halt Sepulvado’s execution.

As of 6 p.m. Friday, that appeal had not appeared on the 5th Circuit’s website.

Shows said after the hearing in Morvant’s court that the appeal will be carefully crafted rather than rushed.

“We’re not going to … try to get it in before the 13th (Ash Wednesday),” Shows emphasized.

Shows also said state officials would release information requested by Sepulvado’s attorneys in court filings placed with Brady and Morvant.

“We’re not going to have a problem,” Shows said. “We’re going to do it.”

Clements, who is director of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, said after Morvant’s ruling that he will refile the request for information on Sepulvado’s planned execution and name the inmate as plaintiff in the state court proceeding.

Clements agreed with Shows’ estimate that the federal and court actions likely will mean that state officials cannot set a new execution date for at least 30 to 45 days.

“We’re going to get this information, one way or the other,” Clements added.