Alabama’s first execution since 2011 may have been tainted by several non-factual issues.
On July 26, 2013, 29-year-old Andrew Reid Lackey — the so-called “Halloween Killer” — died after receiving a lethal injection, which was his punishment for the 2005 assault and murder of 80-year-old Charles Newman. Mr. Lackey had dropped all of his appeals, and reportedly attempted suicide while on death row. Despite his seemingly obvious guilt, there were some rather serious questions surrounding the execution itself.
The Eighth Amendment prohibits “cruel and unusual” punishment. There is no doubt that forced execution is both cruel and unusual, but whether execution violates the Constitution largely depends on the method. Methods such as death by hanging, which was once common in the United States, have been replaced by methods that are supposedly more humane. Most states once used Pancuronium bromide for use in lethal injections, but advocacy groups began to offer objections. They claimed that Pancuronium bromide’s hypnotic effect tended to mask the prisoner’s suffering and made onlookers believe that the process was less painful than it really was. In 2012, Texas became the first state to use Pentobarbital instead of Pancuronium bromide.
Executing mentally challenged prisoners
The Supreme Court has ruled that executing “mentally retarded” prisoners is indeed cruel and unusual punishment. It can be difficult to prove that a person is “mentally retarded,” especially since the state usually hires an expert who will almost certainly testify that the defendant had the sufficient mental capacity to understand his or her actions. The law in such situations is still developing.
At McPhillips Shinbaum, our criminal defense attorneys not only know the law. They help make the law, by aggressively pursuing appellate remedies wherever they are available in a criminal case. To see what a difference an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney can make, contact McPhillips Shinbaum to schedule your free consultation. Jail visits may be available.