Debate on the death penalty has paused at the Unicameral so the sponsor of a bill that would eliminate capital punishment in Nebraska gathers more information on accusations that that state used deception to obtain a drug needed of lethal injection.
Questions surrounding the state’s method of obtaining sodium thiopental became a focal point of the debate in the legislature. Sen. Brenda Council of Omaha sponsors LB 276, which would end capital punishment.
Council warned colleagues that they need to pay attention to the controversy that has arisen over the state’s use of a broker to buy sodium thiopental from a foreign manufacturer. Council reminds fellow senators that the manufacturer claims the state obtained the drug under false pretenses.
“So, we’re obtaining this drug knowing its being obtained in a deceitful manner with the intent to deceive,” Council stated during floor debate.
The executions of Carey Dean Moore and Michael Ryan have been delayed, in part, because the state didn’t have the anesthetic needed to carry out lethal injections. Moore was convicted of killing cab drivers Maynard D. Helgeland and Reuel Eugene Van Ness in 1979. Ryan was sentenced to death for the ritualistic torture and killing of James Thimm at a religious compound near Rulo in 1985.
The gap between when those crimes were committed and the pending executions of the two condemned inmates bothered Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha.
“The time that has lapsed between when these horrible crimes were committed and we are still struggling to carry out the sentences that were justly handed down. At a certain level, it breeds, I think, disrespect for all law,” according to Lautenbaugh.
Lautenbaugh noted that the debate on the two cases centers more on technical issues than the crimes committed.
Debate on the death penalty bill could resume later this session.
AUDIO: Sen. Brenda Council discusses questions about lethal injection during Unicameral debate [4:00]
AUDIO: Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh responds to Sen. Council [2:00]