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'Cloudy' Drugs for Kelly Gissendaner's Execution Were Kept Too Cold

Georgia officials say their internal review found the drugs were not "adulterated" and they can fix the problem.
/ Source: NBC News

An investigation into cloudy drugs that were nearly used for the execution of Kelly Gissendaner in Georgia last month has determined they were stored at the wrong temperature. The condition of the drugs caused the execution to be postponed.

In court papers, state officials said the pentobarbital, which was purchased from a compounding pharmacy that made a special batch, was kept at 37 degrees when it should have been kept at 59 degrees. That may have caused the "precipitation" that made the solution look cloudy, they said.

Gissendaner, 46, has argued that the last-minute glitch caused her so much anxiety that it should be considered cruel and unusual punishment and any plans to give her another lethal injection should be called off. In its response, the state said that by that logic, "prison officials violate the Eighth Amendment each time an execution is halted or, by extension, each time a higher court dissolves a lower court’s stay of execution."

The state also said that Gissendaner's claim that her execution had been "botched" was bogus because no IV line had been inserted before it was postponed. "Georgia still has botched no executions, let alone that of Plaintiff who has not been executed," Georgia's lawyers wrote.

In a statement, the Georgia Department of Corrections said it can correct the problem that caused the cloudiness and proceed with executions.

Hundreds of clergy members have signed letters pleading for Gissendaner's life to be spared, noting that she earned a theology degree while locked up for orchestrating the murder of her husband by her boyfriend in 1997. The mother of three recorded a final statement to her kids in the hours before her scheduled execution, telling them, that "no matter what happens tonight, love does beat out hate."

A new execution date for Gissendaner has not been set. If she does get a lethal injection, she will be the first woman put to death in Georgia in 70 years.