After Legal Flurry, Alabama Inmate to Be Executed Thursday

(CN) – Alabama death-row inmate Robert Melson is scheduled to be executed on Thursday, despite a flurry of legal challenges in recent days to the use of the drugs that will take his life.

The 11th Circuit stayed Melson’s execution last week pending the outcome of his appeal based on the use of the drug midazolan in the three-drug mixture that will kill him. That appeal was consolidated with four other death row cases.

But the U.S. Supreme Court vacated that stay on Tuesday and since then Melson’s attorneys have filed motions in both state and federal court in a bid to keep him alive.

The attorneys contend the three-drug lethal injection method of execution is unconstitutional because midazolam  does not effectively mask the pain created by the other two drugs, as intended.

The Alabama attorney general’s office has responded by arguing the issues concerning midazolam have already been decided.

Melson was sentenced to die for the 1994 shooting deaths of three Popeye’s employees during the commission of a robbery at the Gadsden, Ala., fast-food restaurant. A fourth employee was also injured during the incident.

Recent questions concerning the effectiveness of the drug midazolam have arisen in the wake of multiple executions that have seen inmates cough or heave during the lethal-injection procedure.

Ronald Smith, an Alabama inmate who was executed in December, reportedly coughed for 13 minutes during the procedure.

Melson is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m.

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