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Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Oklahoma inmate scheduled to die for 1994 killing

August 29, 2006

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— An Oklahoma inmate convicted in the 1994 stabbing death of an Oklahoma City woman is scheduled to be executed today under a new lethal injection system that delivers a larger dose of anesthesia before the fatal drugs are administered.

Eric Allen Patton, 49, was convicted of the Dec. 16, 1994, murder of Charlene Kauer during a robbery at her Oklahoma City home. His execution is set for 6 p.m. today at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.

On Monday, Patton's attorneys filed an emergency application for a stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court, a common move for inmates nearing execution.

"We just received (the application) and are preparing our response," Emily Lang, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, said Monday.

Patton had challenged the state's execution procedure, arguing that inmates may be subjected to pain during lethal injection. Although a federal judge rejected that argument earlier this month, the state Department of Corrections revised its execution procedure.

Under the new system, inmates will receive a larger dose of the sedative sodium thiopental, which causes unconsciousness, before getting injected with vecuronium bromide, which stops breathing, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Dr. Mark Dershwitz, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said the change would reduce the chance an inmate might wake up after the sedative had been administered and before the lethal drugs took effect.

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