Convicted Nebraska cult killer Michael Ryan recently lost his appeal to stay his execution. As a Nebraska appeals attorney discusses, despite this loss, the state is still not ready to execute him.
The Facts Leading Up to Ryan’s Conviction
Michael Ryan was convicted of the brutal torture and murder of James Thimm in 1985. Ryan, a cult survivalist leader at the time, was also convicted of killing a five-year-old child of one of his cult members. Mr. Ryan was sentenced to death and has since filed five unsuccessful appeals to overturn his conviction and stay his execution. A criminal appeals lawyer can discuss the legal basis for those appeals.
The Grounds for the Appeals
In his latest appeal, Mr. Ryan argued that the state of Nebraska was attempting to use an improper drug for his lethal injection, sodium thiopental. Additionally, Mr. Ryan claimed the state’s change from executions by electrocution to lethal injection was improper. Mr. Ryan did not prevail on his appeal, but his execution is not scheduled since there is still controversy surrounding the drugs used in Nebraska lethal injections.
Nebraska’s Current Lethal Injection Protocol
Since eliminating death by electrocution, Nebraska has adopted a three drug protocol for lethal injections. The problem, as an appeals attorney can explain is with the procurement of the third drug, sodium thiopental. The state’s supply of this drug has expired and there has been mounting difficulty replacing it as one U.S. manufacturer ceased making it and a Swiss manufacturer refuses to sell it. This is an ongoing issue for states that use lethal injection as their primary means of carrying out executions.
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