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Ky. High Court upholds injection method

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentucky’s lethal injection method is constitutional, the state Supreme Court said in a ruling Wednesday that could clear the way for executions to resume.

Kentucky death row inmates Thomas Clyde Bowling, 52, and Ralph Baze, 49, challenged the state’s method of execution in 2004, saying the drug formula causes inmates to feel pain and is therefore cruel and unusual punishment.

The state has not declared a moratorium on executions but had not scheduled any since the lawsuit was filed. Bowling and Baze have received several stays of execution because of the court challenge.

Affirming a lower court ruling issued after a lengthy trial last year, the Supreme Court said the judge in that case made no errors.

Bowling was sentenced to be executed for killing Edward and Tina Earley and shooting their 2-year-old son outside the couple’s Lexington dry-cleaning business in 1990.

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Baze was convicted of killing Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe during an attempted arrest in 1992.

Kentucky, like many states, uses a four-drug combination that includes Valium, which is designed to relax the inmate; sodium thiopental, which is designed to render the inmate unconscious; and pancuronium bromide, also known as Pavulon, which paralyzes the inmate. The final drug injected, potassium chloride, causes a heart attack.

Kentucky, which has 39 death-row inmates, has executed two men since reinstating the death penalty in 1976, and only one by injection.

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