(CN) – California’s highest court blocked the execution of 56-year-old Albert Greenwood Brown, who was to be executed by lethal injection on Thursday. The court unanimously denied the state’s request to use new lethal injection procedures at San Quentin State Prison.
In its order, the Supreme Court said, “The state has itself contributed to circumstances incompatible with the orderly resolution … of pending legal issues in connection with executions under the new regulations,” by choosing an execution date one day before the prison’s supply of the sedative sodium pentothal, the first of three drugs used in lethal injections, was set to expire.
The state argued that because more of the drug will not likely be available until next year, it “will likely be unable to execute Brown, or any other condemned inmate, during this year.”
On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel halted the execution, saying it was “virtually impossible” for the court to evaluate whether the new execution procedure would remove the risk of Brown being subjected to an agonizing death.
The 9th Circuit had ordered the San Jose, Calif., judge to reconsider a ruling he made last week denying the stay of execution.
Fogel returned with Tuesday’s ruling granting the stay, which remains in place. The execution of Brown, who was convicted in 1980 for raping and murdering a 15-year-old Riverside, Calif., girl, would have been California’s first execution since 2006.