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Bexar County Killer Will Be Executed With Final Supplies Of Death Drug

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

  Convicted murderer Manuel Vasquez, of Bexar County, is set to die via lethal injection on Wednesday night. His execution and one more next week will exhaust the state of Texas’ remaining supply of the execution drug pentobarbital. With four more executions slated for next month, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice is weighing its options.

The state uses a single dose of pentobarbital to cause unconsciousness and respiratory arrest in its executions. The drug is in short supply, making Texas re-evaluate how it will enforce the death penalty.  Jason Clark, spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, said Texas was not alone in facing this dilemma.

“Certainly many departments of corrections throughout the United States that carry out executions are having difficulty finding drugs to use in the lethal injection process.”

Clark said that the problem had cropped up basically due to restrictions placed by the manufacturers of the drug. One option being explored was to find a company willing to produce the drug or use another drug entirely.“We’re exploring all options at this point and have not made that decision to switch.”

Clark wouldnot confirm any potential future supplies of the drug. Kristin Houle, Executive Director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said the state should carry out executions in the fairest and most transparent way possible.

“When the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shrouds this information in secrecy and refuses to disclose information about the drugs that are being used to put people to death in the name of the people of Texas, this should be a cause for alarm for anyone, despite how they might feel about the death penalty.”

Houle said through the organization’s public information requests, they had discovered that the state had the drugs midazolam and hydromorphone in stock, these are also drugs used together  . However, Clark would not confirm if Texas had those in possession. 

The TDCJ refused speculating on what would happen with the April executions if pentobarbital was exhausted, but indicated that it did intend to carry them out.