Jindal: State has drugs necessary for execution of Sepulvado

Advocate staff file photo MARK SALTZ --  The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Show caption
Advocate staff file photo MARK SALTZ -- The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Friday that Louisiana has the drugs it needs to put convicted child killer Christopher Sepulvado to death next week.

The state plans to use a combination of midazolam and hydromorphone because it could not obtain pentobarbital. The execution is scheduled for Wednesday.

“The department and its attorneys assure me they’re ready,” Jindal said.

The drug combination became controversial after it was used for the first time in an Ohio execution Jan. 16. News reports indicated it took Dennis McGuire 25 minutes to die. He allegedly struggled, gasped, snorted and choked for 10 minutes.

Midazolam is a sedative. Hydromorphone is a pain medication.

Sepulvado, 70, was sentenced to death for beating and scalding his 6-year-old stepson, Wesley Allen Mercer, to death in 1992. The boy died at DeSoto General Hospital of severe burns after being dropped into a bathtub filled with hot water.

The execution would be Louisiana’s first since 2010, when Gerald Bordelon waived his appeals and welcomed death for sexually assaulting and strangling his 12-year-old stepdaughter. Bordelon died with the assistance of an anesthetic agent called sodium thiopental.

The state’s remaining supply of sodium thiopental expired in 2011. The only U.S. company that manufactured the drug no longer makes it.

Louisiana switched to pentobarbital but was unable to buy it because of drug companies’ resistance to selling their products for use in execution chambers. Some states are turning to compounding pharmacies, and there was evidence that Louisiana explored that option.

Unable to find pentobarbital as the window narrowed for Sepulvado’s execution, the Jindal administration abruptly changed its protocol to include a two-drug combination of midazolam and hydromorphone.

Sepulvado’s attorneys are fighting his execution on several grounds. A conference is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday with U.S. District Court Judge James J. Brady. Brady has ordered the Jindal administration to produce outstanding documents and respond to a motion for sanctions.

Brady’s ruling Friday specifies the state Department of Corrections “to identify, by type, manufacturer, lot number, quantity, expiration date, and source, the drug or drugs to be used by the DOC in the lethal injections given to death row inmates.”