U.S. Supreme Court upholds use of controversial drug for execution

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JEFFERSON CITY - The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the decision to allow the use of a controversial drug in lethal injections for executions today.

The justices voted in a 5-4 case from Oklahoma that the drug Midazolam can be used in executions without violating the eighth amendment prohibition on cruel and unusal punishment.

The drug was used in executions in in 2014 and raised problems. Evidence from the case claimed Midazolam took longer than usual and raised concern that it did not carry out its intended purpose of putting inmates into a "coma-like" sleep. 

St. Louis Public Radio said Missouri Department of Corrections officials had been secretly using Midazolam for about a year in 2014. 

They said this news was released when Missouri Department of Corrections Director George Lombardi testified under oath that this was not the case. 

St. Louis Public Radio obtained corrections department memos and revealed Lombardi had "reviewed and approved" the use of Versed, or the brand name of Midazolam, to execute two inmates before his January testimony, as well as seven executions after the testimony. 

KOMU 8 News reached out to the Missouri Department of Corrections many times Monday when the Supreme Court ruling was released.

KOMU 8 News received no calls back.

Missouri Department of Corrections Communications Director David Owen e-mailed KOMU with the protocol he says is used for Missouri executions. 

"Missouri is prepared to carry out the July 14 execution in accordance to the execution protocol that was established in October 2013," Owen said.

Owen declined to answer questions about the matter or about the department's stance on the Supreme Court ruling.

KOMU 8 News then reached out to the Missouri Attorney General's office but received no response.