Official: Texas can keep lethal drug source secret

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 29, 2014 at 7:35 pm •  Published: May 29, 2014
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Prison officials in Texas have previously provided little public evidence to support their claim that its execution drug supplier would be in danger if identified.

State and local law enforcement, including a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety, said last month they were not investigating any threats against a Houston-area compounding pharmacy previously identified as the state's execution supplier.

The pharmacy's owner had complained of "constant inquiries from the press, the hate mail and messages," and the DPS assessment released Thursday said some of the threats made against that pharmacy "should be taken seriously." It does not say why, and a spokesman for the agency did not immediately return a message Thursday night asking if those threats are now under investigation.

In Missouri, Koster said that he believes his state's Legislature "should remove market-driven participants and pressures from the system and appropriate funds to establish a state-operated, DEA-licensed laboratory to produce the execution chemicals in our state," according to a transcript provided by his office.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press and four other news organizations filed a lawsuit against the Missouri Department of Corrections, claiming the state's refusal to provide information on the execution drug violates the public's constitutional right to have access to information about the punishment.

Death penalty states have been scrambling to find new sources of drugs after several drugmakers, including many based in Europe, refused to sell drugs for use in lethal injections. That's led several states to compounding pharmacies, which are not as heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration as conventional pharmacies.

Abbott's decision is expected to be appealed and could eventually land before the Texas Supreme Court. A prominent Texas defense attorney, Maurie Levin, called Abbott's decision "deeply disturbing and frankly quite shocking."

"Serious questions surround this about-face, including why our attorney general, who once championed transparency, is suddenly now supporting secretive government practices," Levin said in a statement.

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Graczyk reported from Houston. Associated Press writer Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.

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