Manuel Valle's Execution Gets the Go-Ahead From Circuit Court Judge

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola cleared one more roadblock to the lethal juicing of South Florida cop killer Manuel Valle.

After a hearing ordered by the Florida Supreme Court to decide the effectiveness of the state's new lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital, Scola ruled that Valle's defense "failed to present any credible evidence of any risk of needless suffering."

Scola's ruling will now go back to the Florida Supreme Court -- which previously delayed the execution date from August 2 to September 1 to facilitate the hearing -- before Valle can be blasted with the lethal juices.

The defense's main witness in the hearing, an anesthesiologist, gave anecdotal evidence about the pain suffered by inmates from other states who have been subject to lethal injections involving pentobarbital, but Scola ruled that without some sort of data, "there is no way to know" exactly how it affects inmates.

Pentobarbital, the new sedative drug, has already been used for executions in four other states, although it hasn't yet been used in a Florida execution.

The drug replaces sodium thiopental, which has been unavailable after the only seller in the country, Hospira, stopped manufacturing it due to concerns about its use in lethal injections.

The folks who make the pentobarbital over in Denmark have been objecting to the state of Florida, and others, for using their product to kill people -- including the company's president writing letters to Gov. Rick Scott asking him not to use his company's product.

Still, pending the Florida Supreme Court's decision, Valle's execution will take place on September 1.

Valle, convicted of killing a Coral Gables cop in 1978, has been locked up at the Florida State Prison in Raiford since May 16, 1978.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley