SAN FRANCISCO – A death row inmate on Sunday asked a federal appeals court to halt his execution as he declined to choose a method for the lethal injection.
Lawyers for Albert Greenwood Brown filed court papers to appeal a federal judge's refusal to block the execution, which is set for Wednesday. Brown also let pass a noon deadline set by the judge to choose between a one-drug lethal injection or execution by a three-drug cocktail.
His attorney called such a choice "unconstitutionally medieval."
Brown's refusal to choose means a three-drug cocktail will be used in his execution if the appeals court doesn't block California's first execution in nearly five years. He was sentenced to die for abducting, raping and killing 15-year-old Susan Jordan, of Riverside County, in 1980.
U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel denied Brown's two requests Saturday to change his mind about going forward with the execution.
In one court filing, Brown's attorney John Grele said he discussed the injection options with his client Saturday. Grele said the two had an unproductive meeting because there are too many unknown elements about the injection process to properly advise his client in such a short time.
"Mr. Brown has not had time to think about these matters or to weigh his options," Grele wrote.
The judge initially put the execution on hold in 2006 after finding that poorly trained prison officials carried out executions in a death chamber too cramped and dingy to protect the inmate from suffering "cruel and unusual" punishment while receiving a lethal injection.
The state has since constructed a new death chamber and overhauled the selection and training of its execution team.
The judge on Friday refused to block Brown's execution. He also said he was guided by a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding Kentucky's three-drug lethal injection.
The high court's ruling has made it more difficult for condemned inmates who have run out of appeals to delay their executions.
Brown's latest appeal will be heard by a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal panel of three judges, all of whom were appointed by former President George W. Bush.
The inmate also planned Monday to ask a Marin County Superior Court judge to block his execution while a recently filed lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection regulations is pending.
Brown also has petitioned Gov. Schwarzenegger for clemency, which is opposed by the Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco and the victim's family.