A man in Texas who was convicted of murdering his parents was executed Wednesday as planned despite a growing controversy over the drug that was used to carry out the sentence.
Texas prison officials rejected a request from the pharmacy that made and sold the state a single dose of the drug pentobarbital, which is used in executions, to give back the drug.
The owner of The Woodlands Compounding Pharmacy, Jasper Lovoi, stated that Texas authorities placed him right in the middle of protesters, receiving threatening phone calls and also getting requests for press conferences after allowing it to be known he was the one who sold them eight doses of pentobarbital for future executions.
He added he was assured anonymity by the state.
However, a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Jason Clark, said the department purchased the drugs legally and will not be returning them.
He explained that Texas contained enough vials to carry out slated executions for the entire rest of the year.
States like Texas which have the death penalty have been turning to compounding pharmacies to buy their deadly barbiturate doses used in their executions.
The changes have come after the drugs’ principal makers have stopped sending supplies to states following pressure put on them from huge interest groups who are against the death penalty.
These types of pharmacies allow specialized authorities to fix up the components for the medicines themselves and sell the drugs. But the U.S. FDA refuses to guarantee the power, effectiveness or safety of such drugs constructed in compounding pharmacies.
Previously this year, these new drug pharmacies came under strict analysis after a fatal meningitis outbreak occurred which was linked to tainted injections manufactured at a Massachusetts pharmacy.
Attorneys for Michael Yowell, age 43, had wanted to get a last-minute reprieve for their client in Texas. But just a few minutes before he was led to the death chamber, the U.S. Supreme Court prohibited a charge that he and two other convicted prisoners had brought up. They were looking for an execution postponement on the grounds that the pentobarbital might cause unconstitutional suffering and pain.
Yowell was pronounced dead at 7:11pm CDT in Huntsville, TX.
The convict was imprisoned because of killing his parents, Johnny and Carol Yowell, in 1998. He then set fire to their Lubbock, TX home. It stated in court documents that Yowell said to investigators he had shot his father and then strangled and murdered his mother. Next he moved on to blowing up the family home. His grandmother, who had also lived there, was also killed. However, Yowell was not sentenced in her death.
In September, the House approved legislation directed at regulating compounding pharmacies. The bill, which has moved to the Senate, would set a national group of standards to follow the distribution of medications. Supporters stated the bill closes up a very wide margin left between federal and state lapses of compounding pharmacies. In the meningitis outbreak in Massachusetts, over 60 people died and more than 700 people became ill over 20 states. This was all from a bad lot of steroids created at the Compounding Center up in New England.
There have been other states like Georgia and South Dakota which have experienced comparable problems with buying drugs straight from the manufacturers.
Georgia’s first attempt of an execution drug attained through a compounding pharmacy was stopped back in July after the sentenced inmate confronted a new state law that banned the publication of information about where Georgia bought its execution drugs.
One day before Yowell’s execution, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals prohibited a motion put forth by the condemned man’s lawyers, who wanted to watch each step of the execution process as it happened. Even though they were unable to view the process, the Texas man was still executed for murdering his parents and the drug controversy surrounding it all failed to stop this.
Written by: Kimberly Ruble