US judge rejects German drug maker’s effort to halt execution

In this June 1, 2018 file photo, small vials of fentanyl are shown in the inpatient pharmacy at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City. (AP)
Updated 12 August 2018
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US judge rejects German drug maker’s effort to halt execution

  • Moore was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of two taxi drivers
  • State officials have said they obtained the drugs legally, although they have kept their source secret

CHICAGO: A US judge on Friday denied German drugmaker Fresenius Kabi’s motion to stop a planned lethal injection execution in Nebraska on the grounds that the state improperly obtained the company’s drugs.
Federal Judge Richard Kopf ruled that the state could carry out the execution, its first in 21 years, using a four-drug protocol.
Fresenius Kabi had argued it was the likely source of two of those drugs, and their use in an execution would hurt the company’s reputation, especially with a European public largely opposed to capital punishment.
The German group argued that it had protocols in place to prevent its drugs from being obtained by state agencies for executions, and that if Nebraska had purchased the drugmaker’s injectable medicines, it had done so improperly.
But Kopf rejected the company’s arguments, issuing an oral ruling from the bench saying that since Nebraska has not publicly identified the source of its execution drugs, the company’s concerns were too speculative.
Fresenius Kabi reportedly planned to appeal the ruling, which for the time being did not alter the planned execution date of convicted murderer Carey Dean Moore, set for Tuesday.
Moore was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of two taxi drivers. He is not contesting his execution order, but it could nevertheless be delayed by the lawsuit, should it prevail in an appeal.
“Decades have slipped by since Mr.Moore was sentenced to death. The people of Nebraska have spoken,” the judge said in his ruling.
“Any delay now is tantamount to nullifying Nebraska law, particularly given the rapidly approaching expiration of two of the drugs and the total absence of any feasible alternatives.”
State officials have said they obtained the drugs legally, although they have kept their source secret.
Injectable drugs have become harder to obtain amid public opposition and a reluctance or refusal by drug manufacturers to sell their products to prisons for use in executions.
Last month, a similar lawsuit by drugmaker Alvogen temporarily halted an execution in Nevada.


Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

Updated 3 min 32 sec ago
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Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

LOS ANGELES: A California woman said Saturday that she had to drive herself to the hospital and give birth without her husband after he was detained by immigration agents.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the man was detained because he was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in a homicide case in Mexico.
Maria del Carmen Venegas said she and her husband, Joel Arrona Lara, were driving to the hospital Wednesday when they stopped for gas in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles.
Surveillance footage shows two vehicles immediately flank the couple’s van after they pulled into the gas station. Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification, Venegas said.
Venegas, 32, said she provided hers but that Arrona had left his at home in their rush to the hospital. The surveillance footage shows the agents handcuffing the 35-year-old Arrona and taking him away, leaving a sobbing Venegas alone at the gas station.
Venegas said she drove herself to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section for the birth of her fifth child.
“I feel terrible,” Venegas said in a telephone interview from the hospital as her newborn son Damian cried in the background.
“We need him now more than ever,” she said.
Venegas said she and her husband came to the US 12 years ago from the city of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. They do not have legal authorization to live in the US, and all five of their children are US citizens, she said.
Venegas said her husband is a hard worker and the sole provider of the family.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Immigration and Custom Enforcement said Arrona “was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges,” spokeswoman Lori Haley said.
ICE said agents with the agency’s Fugitive Operations Team detained Arrona on Wednesday and said he remained in custody pending removal proceedings.
Though the team prioritizes arresting immigrants who are transnational gang members, child sex offenders and those who’ve had previous convictions for violent crimes, the agency’s statement said it “will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” the statement said.
Emilio Amaya Garcia, director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, said his nonprofit group is providing legal help to Venegas and Arrona, will file a motion on Monday for an immigration court to set a bail hearing for Arrona and will ask that his removal proceedings be canceled.
Garcia did not respond to messages and calls for comment about the arrest warrant in Mexico.