Attorney General Jon Bruning has asked the state Supreme Court to set an execution date for Michael Ryan after the state announced it has obtained a drug necessary to carry out lethal injections.
Ryan is sentenced to die for the torture and slaying of James Thimm at a compound Ryan maintained in the southeastern tip of Nebraska near Rulo.
“I mean this is a guy who committed these crimes in 1985 and they were horrible. I mean you don’t want to even say them on radio, because of the kids that are riding around in the car listening to this right now,” Bruning told Coby Mach on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN’s Drive Time Lincoln. “I mean, Michael Ryan is as bad a person as we’ve had in this state in a long time.”
Court records indicate Ryan brutalized Thimm over a three-day period. Thimm was sexually abused and partially skinned while still alive. Ryan also was convicted in the beating death of a 5-year-old son of a cult member.
The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services says it bought 485 grams of sodium thiopental October 25, 2011 from a pharmaceutical company headquartered in Switzerland for $5,411. A batch of 42 grams expires in May of 2013 and another batch of 443 grams expires in December of 2013. An independent laboratory in the United States tested the drug to confirm it was sodium thiopental.
NDCS Director Robert P. Houston said in a written statement, “With the receipt of this chemical, NDCS stands ready to fulfill its statutory obligation with regard to capital punishment.”
Nebraska has not carried out an execution since 1997. Then, it executed condemned inmates in the electric chair. The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that method unconstitutional in 2008. Voters approved lethal injection in 2009. The federal Drug Enforcement Agency raised questions about how the state obtained sodium thiopental and the courts blocked the execution of Carey Dean Moore for the 1979 killing of two cab drivers in Omaha.
Bruning says he believes the state has resolved those questions. He points out that the NDCS has been licensed by the DEA to import sodium thiopental, the sedative first given prisoners prior to lethal injections of two additional drugs.
It is not known when the court might act on Bruning’s request.
The corrections department says there are currently 11 inmates on death row in Nebraska.