Corrections officials in Georgia said Thursday they would resume executions after indefinitely postponing two executions because concerns were raised about the drugs that were to be used to kill the lone woman on death row in the state.
In March, Georgia's Department of Corrections chose to postpone the execution of Kelly Renee Gissendaner after the lethal injection drug cocktail planned for use in her execution looked cloudy.
An internal investigation by the agency and the state attorney general's office determined that the drugs had been shipped and stored at a temperature that was too low, which caused the cloudy appearance. While some advocates had expressed concern that the drugs had deteriorated, the investigation determined that that was not the case.
Gissendaner, 46, would be the first woman executed in Georgia in 70 years. She was condemned in 1998 for the murder of her husband, Douglas, who was abducted and stabbed to death in a plot carried out by Gissendaner and her boyfriend.
On March 2, just hours before Gissendaner's scheduled execution, prison doctors noticed the drug "appeared cloudy," even though it had passed independent testing from an outside lab earlier in the day.
The state also postponed the execution of convicted murderer Brian Keith Terrell. Gwendolyn Hogan, a corrections spokeswoman, said the state was awaiting a court order to reschedule both of the executions.
Concern over the cocktail to be used in Gissendaner's execution is the latest development in a growing national conversation about the drugs used to kill death row inmates in the U.S. A series of botched executions left death row inmates in Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona gasping for breath and apparently writhing in pain last year.
Corrections officials in several states have been scrambling to obtain new drugs for executions as foreign pharmaceutical companies have curtailed sales of phenobarbital and pentobarbital to protest their use in state-sponsored executions.
Earlier this year, Utah's Legislature approved a measure allowing death row inmates to be killed by firing squad if the state could not obtain the proper drugs to conduct a lethal injection.