A sedative Oklahoma used to execute a death row inmate that is commonly used to euthanize animals could become more popular because of a nationwide shortage of a key ingredient in several states' lethal injection formulas, death penalty experts say.

John David Duty is believed to be the first person in the United States whose execution included the use of pentobarbital. The 58-year-old was pronounced dead at 6:18 p.m. Thursday at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Oklahoma and several other states traditionally have used the barbiturate sodium thiopental to put an inmate to sleep, followed by two other drugs — pancuronium bromide, which paralyzes muscles, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

But Hospira Inc. — the only U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental — said Thursday new batches of the drug could be available "in the first quarter" of next year. They blamed the shortage on problems with its raw-material providers.

"It's a little uncertain if sodium thiopental will be available, so the states will be looking at what's happening in Oklahoma," said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "If it works reasonably well, other states might go that way."

Oklahoma prisons spokesman Jerry Massie said after the execution that there did not appear to be any problems with the new drug.

Strapped to a gurney and wearing an eye patch over his right eye, the heavyset Duty apologized to his victim's family.

"I hope one day you'll be able to forgive me, not for my sake, but for your own," Duty said. "Thank you, Lord Jesus. I'm ready to go home."

The lethal drugs began to flow at 6:12 p.m., and Duty's breathing became labored one minute later. At 6:15 p.m., he appeared to stop breathing and the color began to drain from his face.

Duty pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2001 slaying of 22-year-old Curtis Wise. At the time, Duty was serving three life sentences for rape, robbery and shooting with intent to kill.

COMMENT: Erm . . . What do two wrongs make?



  1. Lord have mercy.
    Christ have mercy.
    Lord have mercy.

    John David Duty—and those he killed—rest in peace.