What happens when you really want to end someone’s life, but your entire stock of pentobarbital expired in September? In the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ case, you trick a hospital into providing you with a drug for use in the same experimental cocktail used in the agonizing two-hour-long execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood III in Arizona.
The execution of Christopher Sepulvado, who was convicted of torturing and beating his six-year-old stepson in 1992, was delayed for six months to consider alternatives following the 25-minute-long execution of Dennis McGuire in the state of Ohio. Louisiana intended to use the same experimental cocktail used in executions in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Arizona–midazolam and hydromorphone, despite numerous issues involved in its use.
The state, however, had a small problem: it had no hydromorphone on hand, so Sepulvado’s lawyers petitioned to learn where the Department of Corrections acquired the drug. According to a document from the DEA, the source of the drug was Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.
Ulysses Gene Thibodeaux, a member of the hospital’s board, told The Lens that “we assumed the drug was for one of their patients, so we sent it. We did not realize what the focus was. Had we known of the real use, we would never have [sent] it.”
“We never inquire into the purpose for it. We assume it’s for legitimate and noble purposes,” Thibodeaux continued. “We have assurances from our CEO, who is a very forthright guy, that this will not happen again.”
The execution has been delayed “as the Legislature considers alternative methods of execution and as the Department (of Public Safety and Corrections) is reviewing the most effective dosage levels for the drug protocol.”