OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal judge has temporarily blocked an Oklahoma pharmacy from providing an execution drug to the Missouri Department of Corrections for an upcoming lethal injection.
The temporary restraining order was issued late Wednesday, after a federal lawsuit was filed in Tulsa by Missouri death row inmate Michael Taylor. His attorneys said the department contracts with The Apothecary Shoppe in Tulsa to provide compounded pentobarbital, which is set to be used in Taylor’s execution on Feb. 26.
The lawsuit argued that several recent executions involving the drug indicate it would likely cause Taylor “severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain.” In his order Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern wrote that Taylor’s attorneys submitted “facts demonstrating that immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result to plaintiff before defendant can be heard in opposition.”
The judge set a hearing for Tuesday and ordered the pharmacy to submit a response to the injunction by Friday. He said the order would remain in effect at least until an evidentiary hearing.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the execution would be delayed because of the ruling.
Taylor, 47, pleaded guilty in the 1989 abduction, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old Kansas City girl.
Missouri corrections officials turned to The Apothecary Shoppe to supply compounded pentobarbital after manufacturers of the drug refused to provide it for lethal injections, according to the lawsuit.
Taylor’s lawsuit questions whether the pharmacy can legally produce and deliver compounded pentobarbital. It says the pharmacy is not registered as a drug manufacturer with the Food & Drug Administration.
Several recent executions that involved compounded pentobarbital indicate use of the drug will subject Taylor to “inhumane pain,” the lawsuit says.
One such execution was that of Oklahoma death row inmate Michael Lee Wilson, 38. Within 20 seconds of receiving a lethal injection at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on Jan. 9 Wilson said: “I feel my whole body burning.”
Associated Press writers Ken Miller in Oklahoma City and Amy Shafer in Chicago contributed to this report.