Now, not only is the U.S. Department of Justice going state-by-state and scooping up any remaining supplies of sodium thiopental (see our earlier post for details), it has informed the State of Arizona that Arizona cannot legally use its sodium thiopental supply because it is the opinion of the Justice Department that Arizona got that drug illegally when it bought some from a British supplier.
Now, this happened within hours of Arizona’s scheduled execution of Donald Beaty. Not that Beaty or his lawyers were surprised at this position — this is EXACTLY what they were arguing all along.
However, this wasn’t akin to a stay by the governor. The Arizona Supreme Court just held up things for a bit and then the execution was back on schedule — yesterday, at 7:30 p.m., Donald Beaty died.
How could they go ahead? Well, they used the lethal injection method with pentobarbital in the stead of the British-bought sodium thiopental.
That’s right. Arizona cannot legally use sodium thiopental bought in England, but it can use a drug never tested on humans for this purpose and never okayed for executions by the U.S. Supreme Court (or medical researchers).
Pentobarbital: the drug that vets use to put pets down. That’s assumedly okay with the Justice Department.