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Judge blocks 2 executions until state approves doctors' new role

Judge blocks 2 executions until state approves doctors' new role

A judge on Thursday stopped two executions scheduled within the next eight days, saying a recent decision to change the role a doctor plays in the process must be approved by the governor and the Council of State.
North Carolina law requires a doctor be present at executions. But last week, the North Carolina Medical Board decided that any participation by a doctor beyond merely attending an execution violated its ethics policy.
On Monday, the state announced a nurse and emergency medical technician would monitor an inmate's vital signs instead of a doctor.
Citing a law from 1909 that requires the governor and the Council of State, the top nine statewide elected officials, to approve any change in the execution process, a judge Thursday ordered the executions of Marcus Reymond Robinson and James Edward Thomas be halted until such approval.
Robinson, 33, was scheduled to die by injection Friday for a 1991 murder and robbery. Thomas, 51, was scheduled to be executed Feb. 2 for a murder and sexual assault.
The state's decision to reduce the role a doctor plays in the execution process came in the state's response to a federal appeal filed in the case of two other inmates on death row.
The state will not appeal the ruling, at present, a spokesman for the state attorney general said.
Officials could also not say how long it would take the governor and the Council of State to approve such a change.
A call to Governor Mike Easley's office was not immediately returned.
Separately, a group of 30 Democratic state legislators this week asked Easley to stop all executions until a committee studies the injection method.
Similar questions about whether lethal injection is inhumane have put executions on hold in nine states _ Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio and South Dakota.


Updated : 2021-04-19 18:32 GMT+08:00