Baltimore County Digest


October 13, 2006

Ex-execution official testifies about injection, A former Maryland execution commander said yesterday that no one on the state's execution team monitors the anesthetic depth of an inmate in the moments before the final deadly chemical is injected "because we're not even trained to do that."

The former execution commander testified in federal court in Baltimore in a courtroom closed to the public to protect his identity. As reporters listened to the testimony from another courtroom, he was referred to throughout the proceeding as "Mr. Z."

Attorneys for death-row inmate Vernon Evans Jr. are arguing that Maryland's lethal injection process violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment. They say Evans' veins are so damaged by past drug use that his execution could be "horrific and painful."

Evans' lawyers have been focusing on the qualifications of execution team members to understand whether someone is anesthetized, saying team members won't know if Evans is able to feel pain just before a very painful drug is injected into him.

Under cross-examination by A. Stephen Hut Jr., who is representing Evans, the former execution commander said he wouldn't be able to tell how deeply a person was anesthetized.

Under questioning by Assistant Attorney General Phillip Pickus, "Mr. Z" said those on the execution team came from various backgrounds. Some are contractors with medical training; others are members of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, and others are contractors with no previous medical training.

"Mr. Z" was execution commander for Maryland's last two executions, those of Wesley Baker and Steven Oken. He testified that during the execution of Tyrone X. Gilliam in 1998, a "bad left hookup" of an IV in Gilliam's left arm caused saline solution to drip on the floor, so execution team members used an IV attached to his right arm. He said that's why protocol includes using an IV in each arm.

The court proceeding before U.S. District Judge Benson Legg is on hold indefinitely. Evans was sentenced to die for the killings of Scott Piechowicz and his sister-in-law, Susan Kennedy, in 1983. In February, Maryland's Court of Appeals stayed his execution.

Associated Press

Baltimore County

Man killed in accident on I-95 in Halethorpe

A man died yesterday after his sport utility vehicle struck a guardrail and overturned several times on Interstate 95 in Baltimore County, state police said.

Shortly after 12:45 p.m., a 24-year-old man was traveling north in a Jeep Cherokee near the interchange with the Beltway in the Halethorpe area when he tried to avoid traffic that had slowed and lost control of his vehicle, according to state police, who said the man died at the scene. The man's identity was being withheld pending notification of relatives, state police said.

Nick Shields

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