Convicted child killer Christopher Sepulvado, of DeSoto Parish, should be executed Nov. 5, according to a death warrant signed by 42nd Judicial District Court Judge Robert E. Burgess.
But the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections had not received that two-day-old warrant as of Friday, said Pam Laborde, communications director for the department.
“Until we get official notification from the court, the department cannot confirm an execution date,” Laborde added.
Both Sepulvado attorney Gary P. Clements, of New Orleans, and District Attorney Richard Z. Johnson Jr., of Mansfield, said the execution warrant cannot become effective before Sept. 27. Both said that is the earliest date a recent opinion by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals can become a mandate for action by Burgess.
Johnson said Sepulvado, 69, was the first murder defendant he prosecuted as a young assistant district attorney decades ago.
“I just want justice to be done for the family and victim in this case,” Johnson said. “It was a horrendous murder. I’m just waiting for this nightmare to end.”
Clements, director of the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, has attempted for more than a year to block Sepulvado’s execution until corrections officials release information about their lethal injection chemical and execution process.
Clements argued in Baton Rouge federal court this year that pentobarbital used for Louisiana executions possibly could result in a prolonged and agonizing death.
State officials have refused to release the expiration date for their supply of pentobarbital, Clements said Friday. “We have strong reason to believe it already has expired.”
U.S. District Judge James J. Brady issued an order in February to block future Louisiana executions until after corrections officials release details related to lethal injections.
But a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit reversed Brady’s decision Aug. 30 and said Sepulvado waited until too late in his 20-year-old case to argue that lethal injection could be unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.
“We are going to file for a re-hearing before the 5th Circuit,” Clements said Friday.
Sepulvado was convicted in 1993 for the 1992 murder of his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Allen Mercer. The trial jury concluded the man beat the boy unconscious with the handle of a screwdriver before plunging him into scalding bath water.
While rejecting a previous appeal, the Louisiana Supreme Court said Mercer had third-degree burns over 58 percent of his body. The state’s highest court also noted the child’s “scalp had separated from his skull due to hemorrhaging and bruising.”