RALEIGH, N.C. – The state may go ahead with an execution because it has taken sufficient precautions to ensure that the inmate will remain unconscious after the lethal drugs are injected, a federal judge said Monday.
Lawyers for Willie Brown Jr. had said there was a chance he could awaken but be paralyzed and suffer pain. The state said a physician and a registered nurse would be present and would have a brain wave monitor to determine if Brown remained asleep.
Brown, 61, is scheduled to die Friday for the 1983 slaying of a woman during a convenience store robbery.
U.S. District Judge Malcolm Howard had said in an order issued 10 days earlier that he would stop the execution if the state didn't prove to him that medical personnel could prevent Brown from waking up after the lethal drugs were injected.
Corrections officials said a doctor and a nurse who are usually present in the observation room with a heart monitor also would observe a brain monitor.
Howard rejected the defense argument that having the doctor and nurse observe from that adjacent room was not sufficient.
"Wherever the medical professionals are located, they will be able to verify that plaintiff is unconscious after administration of sodium pentothal or, if he remains conscious at that time, they will be able to bring about the injection of additional sodium pentothal until plaintiff is rendered fully unconscious," the judge said.
North Carolina would be the first state to use a brain wave monitor to ensure an inmate remains unconscious during an execution, Department of Correction spokesman Keith Acree said last week.