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By The Associated Press
JACKSONVILLE - A judge has ordered the state to update its lethal injection protocol, a ruling that could delay the state’s first such procedure since it halted executions after botching one in December.
Circuit Judge Carven D. Angel ruled that Ian Deco Lightbourne cannot be put to death for the 1981 slaying of Nancy O’Farrell until the Department of Corrections revises its procedures. His execution date was pending while he appeals, but Angel’s ruling could affect the case of another inmate set to die in November.
“Our objective is to carry out a process that is consistent with evolving notions of the decency of man. It is not going to involve infliction of pain or lingering death,” the judge said at a hearing Sunday in Ocala.
Angel made his ruling after 11 days of evidentiary hearings concerning the Dec. 13 execution of Angel Diaz, who took more than 30 minutes to die after needles inserted into his arm punctured his veins.
Neal Dupree of the Capital Collateral Regional Counsel, an agency representing death row inmates in their final appeals, said Angel’s ruling could also affect the execution of Mark Dean Schwab, 38, set to die Nov. 15 for the 1992 kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Junny Rios-Martinez. Gov. Charlie Crist signed Schwab’s death warrant last week, ending a temporary halt on lethal injections that had been imposed after Diaz’s death.
“The judge doesn’t think the protocol will produce a painless execution,” Dupree said.
Sandi Copes, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said it was too early to determine whether the ruling would affect the Schwab execution, the only one scheduled. A status conference on that case was set for Wednesday.
A corrections spokeswoman said the agency would comply with the judge’s order to revise the protocol.
“Our main emphasis is on a humane and dignified death. It is a dynamic document and we are continually working to improve the document,” said Gretl Plessinger, a DOC spokeswoman.
Dupree said prosecutors across the state have been telling defense attorneys wanting to challenge the state’s lethal injection procedures to wait until the Lightbourne ruling.
Now that the judge has ruled, Dupree said, it could put all those cases in limbo. Dupree said his office represents 75 inmates of the 381 inmates on death row.