LA judge refuses to order one-drug executions

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LOS ANGELES (AP) – A judge on Monday turned down a bid by the Los Angeles County district attorney to order the immediate execution of two death row prisoners by a new single-drug injection method.

Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said he did not have jurisdiction to order the procedure that has never been used in California. Executions in the state have been on hold for years while appellate courts consider the legality of the three-drug protocol now in place.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley had suggested a virtual end-run around the current logjam in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals over the way executions are done. Deputy District Attorney Michelle Hanisee said the three drugs used previously are no longer available, and a pharmaceutical company plans to stop making one of them.

The decision came as a Northern California prosecutor joined the fight to resume executions.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe asked a judge to set an execution date for Robert Fairbank, who was sent to death row for the murder of a San Francisco woman in 1985, the San Jose Mercury News reported. A judge is expected to consider Wagstaffe’s request in October.

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