After the United States' highest court agreed to review claims that lethal injection is unconstitutionally cruel several U.S. states have halted executions. But Virginia was still preparing to execute a killer on Wednesday.
Barring intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court or Governor Timothy M. Kaine, Christopher Scott Emmett, 36, was scheduled to be executed by injection Wednesday night for the 2001 bludgeoning murder of his co-worker, John Fenton Langley.
The Supreme Court decided last month to review whether the lethal injection method most states use is cruel and unusual, based on a challenge from two inmates on death row in Kentucky. Virginia uses the same three-drug lethal injection cocktail as Kentucky.
Emmett's attorneys asked the Supreme Court and Kaine to postpone Emmett's execution until the high court hears the case next year.
Executions in at least 10 states have been halted as a result of the challenge to lethal injections. On Monday, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a stay for a killer just 90 minutes before he was to be put to death.
Death penalty opponents argue that the drugs used in execution procedures do not always work as quickly as intended and inmates are subjected to excruciating pain.
J. Tucker Martin, a spokesman for the state attorney general's office, said Virginia's lethal injection procedures have been reviewed by judges multiple times and found to be humane and constitutional.