TRIAL VENUE: Federal courthouse in Little Rock | Michael Hibblen/KUAR | Michael Hibblen/KUAR


| Michael Hibblen/KUAR | Michael Hibblen/KUAR
TRIAL VENUE: Federal courthouse in Little Rock

Michael Hibblen of KUAR reports on the beginning of the state’s defense of the use of midazolam as one of three drugs in its lethal injection process for condemned inmates.


In contrast to experts for those challenging the drug as allowing for excruciating pain to condemned inmates, the state’s experts said the dosage used by the state should prevent pain. They also explained seeming violent reactions to the drug by those being executed as an involuntary reaction that’s not an indicator of pain.

From the testimony of Dr. Daniel Buffington, a pharmacologist:


He was questioned by Senior Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Merritt about the convulsions described by witnesses to the execution of Kenneth Williams. He was said to have repeatedly lurched against the restraints of the gurney, with autopsy photos showing wounds and bruises from the restraints.

“Have you ever observed a patient who has received IV midazolam and had involuntary movements or seizures?” Merritt asked.

“Yes, and other anesthetic agents too. It’s not an uncommon scenario when a patient in being induced or maintained,” Buffington said.

“If I was watching somebody [being executed], what would it look like to me?” Merritt asked.

“They would go from still to moving or moving aggressively or gasping or coughing, making an audible sound. It’s when the body is sending a signal to the body so it’s a neuromuscular response to try to get more air at that moment,” Buffington said.

The trial will continue through the week in federal district court.