Are Texas executions in jeopardy?

Thursday, March 12, 2015
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Right now there's a shortage of one of the drugs used in lethal injections nationwide. So how is that affecting Texas?

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Texas executed Manuel Vasquez Wednesday evening for carrying out a Mexican Mafia hit on a San Antonio woman, burning her alive. But now the state has only one remaining lethal injection dosage.

Executions are common in Texas, but this one is getting extra attention because it used half of the state's remaining supply of pentobarbital to put the condemned to death. There's only one remaining dose, and another execution is set for next week.

Texas is one of a number of state's looking for alternatives to the drug commonly use in lethal injections. Drug manufacturers decided in recent years to no longer sell pentobarbital to states that would use it for executions.

Utah's legislature voted to use death by firing squad to replace lethal injection. Utah's governor has not said whether he will sign the bill.

Texas, too, has a backup plan, and it doesn't involve the electric chair once used until the state adopted lethal injection.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has a supply of midazolam, which is a powerful sedative.

"It's public record that we do have midazolam. We continue to explore all options including the continued use of pentobarbital or alternate drug(s) to use in the lethal injection process," agency spokesman Jason Clark said.

Texas has seven executions, including the one set for Wednesday evening.

"It is our intent to carry out the executions scheduled, but I cannot speculate on the future availability of drugs," Clark said.

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