Attorney General Jon Bruning has filed paperwork with the Nebraska Supreme Court, defending how the state obtained a drug needed to carry out executions by lethal injection.
The filing counters paperwork filed by the lawyer for Michael Ryan which accuses the state of inappropriately obtaining sodium thiopental, the first of three drugs used in lethal injection.
Even though Bruning has filed with the court, he said state has no legal obligation to defend how it obtained the drug.
“The United States Supreme Court has said that how a state acquires the drugs is not relevant,” Bruning told reporters in his office today, “that when the state has the drugs needed for an execution, the state may carry out the execution.”
Nebraska Department of Correctional Services Director Robert Houston said the state has acquired the other two drugs from United States manufacturers. The sodium thiopental was obtained through a broker who bought the drugs from Naari, a Swiss pharmaceutical company. Naari has since stated it didn’t know the drug was being purchased to be used in executions.
Houston insisted the state used proper procedures when it bought the drug.
“We’ve complied with every law that needs to be applied here,” according to Houston. “We have not gotten even a phone call from any federal agency that approved for us to receive the sodium thiopental to say that it was done in any way other than the proper protocol.”
Bruning disputed Naari’s contention that it didn’t know the drug was being purchased to be used in lethal injections.
“We had documentation showing that this was properly imported; made clear to Naari why it was being imported,” Bruning stated.
Michael Ryan faces the death penalty for the brutal torture and killing of James Thimm, a member of his religious cult. The murder took place at the cult’s compound in Rulo in southeast Nebraska in 1985. Ryan has also been convicted of killing 5-year-old Luke Stice, the son of a cult member.
No execution date has been set for Ryan, who is 63.