Executions of Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs HALTED by federal judge after their Covid diagnoses01/12/2021
THE executions of two murderers have been delayed at the 11th hour after the Death Row inmates contracted Covid-19.
Convicted killers Cory Johnson and Dustin Higgs were scheduled to be executed on Thursday and Friday, respectively, at the Justice Department's execution chamber in its Terre Haute prison, Indiana.
The ruling, though likely to be challenged by the Justice Department, pushes the execution into the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to take office on January 20 and opposes the death penalty.
Lawyers for Johnson, 52, and Higgs, 48, argued before Judge Tanya Chutkan of the U.S. District Court in Washington earlier this month that their damaged lung tissue would rupture more quickly after lethal doses of pentobarbital, a powerful barbiturate, had been administered.
There could be a period of several minutes in which the men experience drowning as their lungs filled with bloody fluids a pulmonary edema before the drug rendered them insensate or killed them, the lawyers argued, calling it a form of torture.
"A person with COVID-19 related lung damage will experience flash pulmonary edema before the pentobarbital reaches the brain," Chutkan wrote in her ruling on Tuesday. "Though the Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a painless death, it does prohibit needless suffering."
She said a brief injunction delaying the executions would allow them to proceed in a more humane manner.
More to follow…
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