Prieto was facing a 1992 death sentence in California for raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl when he was convicted in Virginia. “Get this over with”, the statement said. California has had 747 inmates sentenced to death, but has carried out only 13 executions since 1976.
The Supreme Court permitted the execution despite pleas by lawyers that pentobarbital, the execution drug, would insufficiently anesthetize Prieto, causing him “gratuitous and unnecessary pain”.
Prieto’s execution remained uncertain until hours before it was scheduled to take place as his lawyers made a flurry of last-minute attempts to spare his life.
Prieto’s execution had been temporarily put on hold by a US District Court judge in Alexandria, Virginia, after his lawyers challenged the planned use of one of three drugs to be included in the lethal injection.
The judge, Henry Hudson, said delaying the execution would harm those affected by Prieto’s crimes, a harm “magnified here by the appalling number of people that Prieto has killed, raped, or otherwise injured”. Oklahoma’s governor on Wednesday, however, postponed the execution of a convicted murderer for more than a month while officials address concerns about the drugs to be used in the execution.
Attorneys for the inmate, Alfredo Prieto, 49, argued that pentobarbital, the first drug to be administered in the three-drug lethal injection, lacked a sterility test.
Prieto was sentenced to death in 2010 for murdering a young couple in Virginia almost two decades earlier. U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga granted a temporary restraining order against the state on Wednesday and set a hearing for 2 p.m. Thursday.
The lawyers say the pentobarbital comes from an “unknown compounding pharmacy and therefore has not been assessed for quality or authenticity by the” Food and Drug Administration, United States regulators.
The U.S. Supreme Court has also rejected Prieto’s request to stay the execution because he claims he is intellectually disabled.
Hudson said Prieto’s lawyers had not adequately shown that the drugs are unsafe.
They also argued that the prisoner’s low IQ of 66 exempted him from the death penalty.
Robert Lee, an attorney for Prieto, said in a statement after the execution, “Tonight the Commonwealth executed a man without knowing whether he has intellectual disability or not, using drugs that are far beyond their approved date of use”.