(AP) Wyo. lawmaker proposes firing squads for execution
By BEN NEARY
A Wyoming lawmaker is pushing to allow use of the firing squad to execute condemned state inmates if constitutional problems or other issues ever prevented the state from using lethal injection.
Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said Monday that state law currently calls for using a gas chamber if lethal injection is unavailable.
Burns said his bill addressed the possibility that the state could have to find a substitute for using lethal injection because a number of states are running short of the chemicals used for lethal injection.
In Missouri, for example, the state auditor is undertaking a probe of the Missouri Department of Corrections over its use of a new death penalty drug. That state for years had used a three-drug blend to perform executions until pharmaceutical companies stopped selling those drugs to prisons.
Missouri has executed two inmates in recent months using the sedative pentobarbital and plans a third execution later this month. The drug comes from a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma not licensed to do business in Missouri.
The pace of inmate executions is much slower in Wyoming, which has only one inmate on death row and last executed an inmate in 1992.
Inmate Dale Wayne Eaton, 68, is challenging the constitutionality of the death sentence he received in 2004 for the rape and murder of 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell of Billings, Mont. The Wyoming Supreme Court already has upheld Eaton’s conviction, but a federal court has put the execution on hold for the past several years while it considers his appeal.
Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C., said Monday he believes Wyoming could face constitutional challenges if it tried to use the firing squad as its only method of execution.
Dieter said Utah has offered inmates the choice of being executed by firing squad but said the state is phasing out the punishment. He said mandating the use of the firing squad if lethal injection were unavailable, as Burns seeks to do, would be a different matter.