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Pennsylvania Man Granted Temporary Stay of Execution

The Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, granted Hubert Michael, age 58, a temporary stay of execution on a fourth warrant due to an inadequate supply of the lethal drug used. Michal was to die by lethal injection on September 22 at 7:00 pm at the State Correctional Institute Rockview but now with a stay of execution granted by the 3rd United States Court of Appeals, he will not face the scheduled execution.

Michael was convicted for the 1994 murder of a 16-year-old girl, Trista Eng who lived near Dillsburg, Pennsylvania. Michael and Eng first met after he answered an ad for a chair being sold. He went to her home to purchase the chair and while there, stole some wires. Shortly after, Eng was walking to her summer job when Michael pulled up alongside her. Recognizing him, she accepted the ride but after getting into his vehicle, he used the stolen wires to bind her.

Michael then drove Eng to the state games land in Warrington Township, raping her, placing a plastic bag over her head, and then fatally shooting her three times. The family was heartbroken but also outraged since Michael was out on bail on an unrelated rape at the time of Eng’s killing. While awaiting trial for Eng’s charge, he escaped jail twice but was recaptured in both incidents.

In a statement from the Governor’s office, signing the temporary stay of execution was necessary to allow the Department of Corrections time to acquire the injection agents needed to carry out Michael’s lethal injection as mandated by Pennsylvania law.

Michael was first scheduled to be executed in 1996 but it was stayed by the District Court for the Middle District. After changing his mind about appeals, two additional warrants were issued, one in 2004 and the other in 2012. Determined to see Michael’s execution carried through, Governor Corbett signed the fourth one in July.

Because of the recent botched execution in Oklahoma, as well as those in other states due to the new drug combination being used over traditional drugs, executions are being looked at somewhat differently.

The problem is that supplies of sodium thiopental, commonly used as a sedative in a three-drug cocktail used in US executions has been cut off by the manufacturer, Hospira. For this reason, states began using pentobarbital but it too could no longer be used after Lunbeck, the Danish manufacturer, asked the US not to use it for the purpose of execution.

According to Susan McNaughton, spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, corrections officials have not been able to obtain the required supply of sodium pentobarbital, as well as pancuronium bromide, which stops a person from breathing, and potassium chloride, used to stop the heart.

Governor Corbett stated a fifth execution warrant would be signed once the required drugs are acquired. Although he is 100% committed to seeing Michael’s sentence of death carried through, one of Michael’s lawyers filed a lawsuit against the corrections department, citing an objection to the three-drug protocol followed. At this time, McNaughton has not provided any comment in connection with the lawsuit.

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