The gurneys are empty on Oklahoma’s death row following a supreme court ruling, brought about by a legal challenge by two men sentenced to death over the secrecy surrounding the state’s source of lethal injection drugs.
Oklahoma’s Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favour of a stay until it can hold a hearing on the lawsuit of two convicted murderers, Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, who were due to die this month.
At issue is the state’s adoption at the end of March of a new procedure allowing five different drug combinations for executions, never before used in Oklahoma. Nationwide, states have been looking for new combinations since drug companies, many based in Europe, stopped selling to prisons and corrections departments.
The appeal centres on the secrecy over the drugs’ preparation and supply.
Texas has already executed three people using a new combination which it refuses to give details on, saying secrecy is needed to prevent the suppliers from threats of violence from opponents of capital punishment.