U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker considered* arguments today from attorneys for Marcel Williams, who contend that due to his physical condition, the lethal injection scheduled for this coming Monday could risk a botched or agonizingly slow and painful execution, in violation of his constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment.
Williams’ attorneys argue that his diabetes, hypertension, and obesity have worsened, posing new risks. Williams has gained 200 pounds while in solitary confinement, according to his attorneys. They also state that he was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea just last month, and “this condition poses particular risks with the administration of the lethal-injection protocol … Mr. Williams will either suffer brain damage from a sub-lethal
execution attempt or will die by suffocation. This is a risk that was previously unknown
to Mr. Williams.”
Dr. Joel Zivot, a physician at the Emory University School of Medicine who examined Williams, stated in the attorneys’ filing, “I believe that the ADC will have difficulty obtaining venous access for the purpose of delivering the chemicals for the lethal injection. The lack of oxygen that Mr. Williams will suffer during the contemplated lethal injection will either cause him brain damage if he survives or cause him to die in a painful way.”
Here is the filing from Williams’ attorneys.
*A previous version of this post incorrectly said Baker was hearing arguments. She cancelled a scheduled hearing. In her order canceling the hearing, Baker cited the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision lifting the preliminary injunction she imposed on the executions, noting that Williams could have brought his claim to court much earlier.
Baker rejected a similar argument from Stacey Johnson late today.