ATLANTA — Lawyers for a Georgia man scheduled to be executed this week have filed a lawsuit seeking to stop it, saying the drug authorities plan to use caused "needless suffering" when it was administered to another death row inmate.
Andrew DeYoung is scheduled to die Wednesday after being convicted of the 1993 slayings of his parents and 14-year-old sister. He was convicted in 1995 after prosecutors argued that he wanted to inherit his parents' estate and start a business.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole denied DeYoung's clemency bid Monday. A federal court hearing on his appeal was scheduled for Tuesday.
Georgia corrections officials plan to use pentobarbital, first used in Georgia in the June 23 execution of Roy Blankenship. Other states already had used the drug to execute inmates before Blankenship's death.
Pentobarbital, which is commonly used to euthanize dogs and cats, is being adopted by a growing number of states as they run out of another drug commonly used in executions, sodium thiopental. The sole U.S. manufacturer of sodium thiopental has stopped making it, and Georgia surrendered its supply to federal officials amid an investigation into how the drug was obtained.
Blankenship's execution raised questions after media witnesses reported unusual movements by Blankenship as the drugs apparently began to take hold.
In the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court, DeYoung's attorneys cite media accounts of Blankenship's execution, including one by The Associated Press.
AP reporter Greg Bluestein, who witnessed the execution, reported that Blankenship appeared to "grimace and jerk" when the drug was administered.
According to Bluestein's account, Blankenship jerked his head several times throughout the procedure and muttered after the pentobarbital was injected into his veins. The 55-year-old's breathing and movements slowed within minutes, and he was pronounced dead at 8:37 p.m.
Death penalty critics said Blankenship's movements were proof that Georgia shouldn't have used pentobarbital to sedate him before injecting pancuronium bromide to paralyze him and then potassium chloride to stop his heart.
Authorities have said the movements took place before the sedative took hold.
In their response to the lawsuit, lawyers with the state attorney general's office said the allegation that Blankenship suffered "unnecessary pain and suffering is not supported by any credible evidence before this court."
Bluestein was subpoenaed Monday by DeYoung's lawyers. Bluestein was released from the subpoena late Monday after the AP attested to the accuracy of its news report.