SAN FRANCISCO – California's attorney general told a judge Wednesday that the state would employ an anesthesiologist to make sure a death row inmate suffers no extreme pain during execution.
To comply with Tuesday's order by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel of San Jose, the anesthesiologist must determine that Michael Morales is unconscious after he's given a sedative. Only then, under the judge's order, can a paralyzing agent and finally a heart-stopping drug be administered.
A spokesman for Attorney General Bill Lockyer said having the anesthesiologist present during next week's scheduled execution is "one of the best options available."
"It gives the state an opportunity to develop a clear record (about) what medical experts have already said: a person executed under California lethal injection protocol receives no pain," Lockyer spokesman Nathan Barankin said.
Fogel threatened to block the execution, scheduled for Tuesday, without the change of protocol to guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment, which is banned by the Constitution.
As an alternative, the judge had said the state could use an overdose of a sedative to execute Morales.
Also Wednesday, Morales lost another legal round to stay alive when the California Supreme Court dismissed one of his two remaining legal challenges. Without elaboration, the justices said the argument based on disputed trial testimony lacked merit.
Morales is on death row for the rape-torture murder of a 17-year-old San Joaquin County girl 25 years ago.