Georgia

Georgia rejects claims execution drug will cause great pain

The Latest on a legal challenge to the scheduled execution of a Georgia death row inmate (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

State lawyers are disputing claims by attorneys for a Georgia inmate that a lethal injection drug will cause him unconstitutional suffering.

J.W. Ledford Jr. is set to be executed Tuesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. The 45-year-old was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston.

Ledford's lawyers say injecting him with pentobarbital risks causing him great pain because of another prescription medication he's been taking for more than a decade.

State lawyers say federal appeals court precedent bars the suggestion by Ledford's lawyers that the state use a firing squad instead. They also say Ledford's lawyers have failed to demonstrate a risk of severe pain that is substantial compared to the known alternatives as required by a U.S. Supreme Court standard.

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9:05 a.m.

Lawyers for a Georgia death row inmate argue the state's lethal injection drug will cause him unconstitutional suffering and that execution by firing squad is the only appropriate alternative.

J.W. Ledford Jr. is set to be put to death Tuesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital. The 45-year-old was convicted of murder in the January 1992 stabbing death of his neighbor, Dr. Harry Johnston.

Ledford's lawyers say his chronic nerve pain has been treated with the drug gabapentin for more than a decade. They cite experts who say exposure to gabapentin alters brain chemistry in a way that pentobarbital cannot be relied upon to make him unconscious and insensate. They say that means there's a substantial risk he'll experience great pain as the drug attacks his respiratory system.