South Carolina will not have the drugs necessary to carry out its first execution in six years of a man convicted of murdering a police officer.
Death row inmate Bobby Wayne Stone, 52, is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on Dec. 1 for killing Sumter County Sheriff’s Sgt. Charlie Kubala in 1997.
The S.C. Supreme Court notified the S.C. Department of Corrections about the execution last week.
However, prison officials will not be able to carry out South Carolina’s first execution since 2011 because Corrections lacks the drugs used to make the lethal injection cocktail, Gov. Henry McMaster said Monday while standing in front of the state’s death row.
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“In order for us to proceed with justice in South Carolina, we must be able to carry out what the law has mandated,” McMaster said.
Inmates on death row can choose electrocution but seldom do. The state has 39 inmates currently on death row. Stone has chosen lethal injection, state Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said.
The deadly mix requires three drugs — pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide and potassium chloride — all of which the state does not have, Stirling said.
Stirling said the state’s supply of pentobarbital expired in 2013, and the remaining drugs are hard to come by because drug companies do not want to be named publicly for providing drugs for executions, fearing backlash.
In exchange for providing those drugs, companies want anonymity, McMaster and Stirling said. The two officials encouraged lawmakers to pass a law that would make the source of the drugs secret.
McMaster said the companies would not be named in subpoenas or public record’s requests.
“There are certain things, I think, the public has a right to know. In this case, I think the state wants to carry out justice,” Stirling said. “The family deserves it, the Court has ordered it and we’re unable to carry out justice.”
A defunct death penalty?
In a recent, high-profile murder case, the prosecutor mentioned the state’s lack of execution drugs in accepting life sentences for a defendant.
Barry Barnette, the prosecutor in serial killer Todd Kohlhepp’s case, said in May he could not guarantee Kohlhepp would be executed if sentenced to the death penalty because the state “doesn’t have a functioning death penalty.”
Kohlepp, convicted of killing seven people, received seven life sentences without parole.
In Stone’s case, Stirling would not elaborate on what the state is looking at if the drugs do not become available by the Dec. 1 execution.
“I warned about this a couple of years ago in the General Assembly when I testified and said, ‘We’re going to be here one day. What are we going to do?’ ”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.