Judge clears way for 1st execution since '06

September 25, 2010 12:39:20 AM PDT
A federal judge cleared the way Friday for California's first execution in nearly five years, citing the state's efforts to revise its lethal injection procedure and a Supreme Court ruling making it more difficult for condemned inmates to delay their executions.

Barring successful appeals to other courts, convicted killer and rapist Albert Greenwood Brown is scheduled to die on Wednesday, after U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel refused to block the execution.

The judge also found that Brown's attorneys failed to produce evidence that the lethal injection would constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

"And given that Brown's attorneys bare the burden of coming in with evidence that there is about to be an unconstitutional execution, he finds the evidence is just not there," ABC7 Legal Analyst Dean Johnson said.

A roomier death chamber was built and the state revised how the execution team is selected and trained.

Brown was found guilty of kidnapping, raping and killing a 15-year-old girl who he abducted as she walked home from school in 1980.

He tied a shoelace around Susan Jordan's neck, dragged her into an orange grove and when he was done, he called her family and taunted them saying, "you'll never see your daughter again."

By phone, Jordan's brother told KABC in Los Angeles, it's a shame the family has had to wait 30 years for justice.

"His life should have been forfeit years ago for what he did and the justice system failed our family," James Jordan said.

In San Francisco the ACLU says there are still issues that need to be resolved, including the use of a paralyzing drug, the ACLU says is unconstitutional.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Jerry Brown said he favored going ahead with the execution. His office said there would be no comment on the judge's ruling.

The death row inmate is being presented with a choice -- execution with a three-drug combination as used in the past, or with a single drug, a heavy dose of the sedative, sodium pentothal. Brown has until 6 p.m. on Saturday to make his decision.

On Monday, attorneys will be asking a Marin County judge for a temporary restraining order suspending executions. They will also be taking their case to the 9th Circuit Court of appeals.

There are 708 people on death row in California; 690 of them are men, all at San Quentin, and there are 18 women are waiting for their execution at the women's facility in Chowchilla.


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