The US Supreme Court made us all hold our breath today when it was announced that they would hear a last-minute argument and possibly issue a stay of execution for Jose Medellin. His execution was scheduled for 1800 central time. Three hours later, with the death warrant still valid and Medellin already moved from the Death Row housing unit at Polunsky to the death chamber at Walls (same facility, different units), it was announced that the Supreme Court would not issue any stay.
So, at 2035 central, Medellin was strapped down to the table and allowed to say his last words. At 2048 the first of the drugs, sodium thiopental, was administered, putting Medellin into a deep sleep. Next came pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxer given in such a high does that it paralyzes the diaphragm and renders the lungs useless. Finally they gave him potassium chloride, interrupting the signals between the brain and heart, inducing cardiac arrest. Essentially, the man died in his sleep.
Adolfo Pena, the father of murder victim Elizabeth Pena, said, “Fifteen years is a long time. I wish those two girls could’ve lived that long.” It’s sad that a man should have to say that–I wish my daughter had lived this long. It’s sad that he’s saying it because a worthless flab of human debris robbed the world of his little girl and nearly got away with it. What’s really incomprehensible, though, is that there are those out there who see this kind of crime and somehow still believe that the death penalty is cruel and unusual. But since Medellin didn’t give his victims any painkillers before brutalizing them, I fail to grasp why his crime is not deserving of something far worse than what he received.
His final words, though, are worth repeating this time. Usually, they’re not; usually, the condemned either claims innocence or says something completely off-kilter. Medellin, in a strange turn, took responsibility for his crimes. He said, “I’m sorry that my actions brought you pain. I hope this brings the closure to what you seek.”