Manuel Valle execution set for Sept. 6by Dara Kam | August 24th, 2011
Valle has spent more than three decades on Death Row and has avoided execution through a series of appeals, reversals and other legal wranglings that eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned his death penalty. In all, courts have re-sentenced Valle to death three times.
Valle, who was born in Cuba, was sentenced to death for the 1978 murder of a Coral Gables police officer, Louis Pena. Valle, now 61, shot Pena after the police officer pulled him over on a routine traffic stop.
The state’s highest court put the execution, originally ordered by Gov. Rick Scott for Aug. 2, back on track on Tuesday with an order approving the state’s new lethal injection drug protocol.
The court in July halted the execution and ordered a hearing on the Department of Corrections’ new drug – pentobarbital – substituted for a drug no longer manufactured and used as the first of the three-drug lethal injection “cocktail.”
On Tuesday, the court approved the new protocol, saying it did not pose a substantial risk of harm to the inmate. Valle’s lawyers argued that pentobarbital, also known as Nebutal, may not render him unconscious, thus subjecting him to undue pain induced by the following drugs used in the procedure.
But the Supreme Court agreed with three other federal courts who also found no credible evidence that administering the drug in the method proscribed – 10 times the dosage required for sedation – would not render Valle unconscious. Pentobarbital is also used in animal euthanasia and assisted suicide, but its manufacturer has asked prison officials as well as Scott not to use it to kill prisoners.
Lawyers for Valle are still pursuing a challenge against lethal injection in federal court and other appeals, including with the U.S. Supreme Court.