LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky will not appeal a judge's ruling that kept a ban on executions in place with state officials opting instead to fight it out in a lawsuit brought by inmates challenging the way lethal injections are carried out.
Justice Cabinet spokeswoman Jennifer Brislin also told The Associated Press that there won't be an attempt to rewrite the regulations for executions to deal with concerns raised by Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd.
"That's not an indication that we are in agreement with the portion of the order adverse to our position," Brislin said.
Earlier this month, Shepherd opted to keep in place an injunction that has stopped Kentucky from carrying out any death sentences since 2010. Shepherd raised concerns about how the state would determine if an inmate is mentally disabled, if the public and defense attorneys see enough of the execution preparation before the lethal injection begins and if the inmate has access to counsel in the hours leading up to an execution.
The state has in place both a one and two-drug method for carrying out a lethal injection. Shepherd did not object to those or the drugs the state would use.
The U.S. Supreme Court has previously addressed many of these issues, with a decision barring the execution of the mentally disabled being the most recent.
The decision not to appeal Shepherd's decision delays by months Kentucky's ability to carry out a death sentence for any of its 33 inmates on death row as briefs are filed and a hearing is held before a final ruling comes down
For the inmates, the decision is something of a relief.
"A lot of these guys live and pray day to day," said Randy Haight, who was condemned to death for killing two people in central Kentucky in 1985.
Shepherd halted lethal injections in 2010 as the state prepared to execute Gregory L. Wilson for a 1987 murder in Kenton County. The judge had expressed concerns about how the state would determine if an inmate is mentally disabled and whether the use of a three-drug mixture caused an unconstitutional amount of pain and suffering.
Wilson, along with inmates Ralph Baze, Thomas C. Bowling, Robert Foley, Brain Keith Moore and Parramore Sandborn, are plaintiffs in the suit.
Shepherd's rulings were the latest development in a decade-long battle over how Kentucky may carry out the court-mandated sentences for its death row inmates in cases that rose to the U.S. Supreme Court, which effectively upheld lethal injections in 2007.
Kentucky has executed three inmates since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976, with the last execution in 2008.
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