By Christopher Zoukis
Missouri’s nine most recent executions have been carried out by killing prisoners with Midazolam, a drug that the state’s Director of the Department of Corrections has stated in a sworn deposition that it had no intention to use.
Department of Corrections Director George Lombardi said in a January deposition that Missouri would not be using the controversial drug in its executions. The deposition took place during a suit in which Missouri’s officials defended their execution protocol, which they claim was different than those used in Ohio, Arizona, and other states that have botched executions. Lombardi was asked, “Why will there be no use of [Midazolam] in an execution?” He answered, “Because we have no intention to do that. We have Pentobarbital that we use.” When pressed, Lombardi said, “I’m testifying right now to tell you that will not be the case. We will not use those drugs.”
That deposition took place after Missouri had already carried out two executions with the drug. In a later deposition, Director of Adult Institutions, David Dormire, also denied use of the drug. He later asserted that he had forgotten that the state had “purchased those items as a back-up.”
However, documents obtained by St. Louis Public Radio suggest that the Midazolam was not a back-up: the state had used the drug in each of the nine executions since November, 2013. And in each case, Lombardi and Dormire have signed off on its use in each of those executions.
Cheryl Pilate, an attorney who has represented several death row inmates, said, “It’s very disturbing that Midazolam hasn’t been disclosed. State law requires drugs in protocol to be disclosed.” She added, “There may be serious violations of state law going on.” Whether the two officials will be cited for what may be perjury was not known at press time.
riginally published in Prison Legal News, August 10, 2016.