The Buzz

Missouri corrections chief defends secrecy surrounding execution drug

Updated: 2014-02-11T00:14:14Z

By JASON HANCOCK

The Star’s Jefferson City correspondent

— Missouri’s top corrections official on Monday defended secrecy surrounding how the state carries out executions.

George Lombardi George Lombardi, director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, said his agency follows state law in its efforts to conceal the identity of a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma that provides the state with pentobarbital, a sedative more commonly used to euthanize pets.

The pharmacy, which numerous media reports have said is The Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa, requested anonymity in order to do business with Missouri, Lombardi said.

Lombardi, in testimony to a state House committee, also defended the state’s practice of paying the pharmacy in cash. Several lawmakers have questioned the practice — some going so far as to suggest outlawing it — but Lombardi said those who assist in executions insist on cash payments to protect their identities. They would refuse to participate otherwise, he said.

“If we outlaw cash payments, what you’re doing is de facto abolition of the death penalty in Missouri,” Lombardi said.

Kansas City lawyer Joseph Luby, who represents death-row inmates, said the secrecy prevents defendants from getting information that would be critical in appealing their sentences.

The next person scheduled to be executed in Missouri is Michael Taylor. He was convicted of raping and murdering Ann Harrison, 15, after abducting her from a school bus stop in Raytown in 1989. His execution is scheduled for Feb. 26.

To reach Jason Hancock, call 573-634-3565 or send email to jhancock@kcstar.com.

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