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Death penalty controversy continues on eve of decision

Posted: 3:39 PM, May 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-05-31 19:20:30-04

The fight over what drugs are being used in Nebraska to carry out capital punishment is being debated before a two time convicted killer finds out if he'll be put to death or not.

Patrick Schroeder will be back in Johnson County District Court on Friday with a decision in his death penalty case.  Schroeder is convicted of killing a farmer in 2006, and his cellmate in 2017 at the Tecumseh Prison.  He represented himself and didn't say anything in his defense at the hearing in April.  

This month, a judge heard the arguments in the case over the release of what death penalty drugs the state has purchased.  The ACLU is suing Governor Ricketts, the Nebraska Attorney General, and NE Department of Corrections because, they say, the state developed flawed execution protocol without reviewing it publicly.

Matt Maly with Nebraskans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty says citizens voted to bring back the death penalty but didn't vote for experimentation and secrecy in the process.

"The death penalty is a huge mess right now in Nebraska.  the fact of the matter is we still don't know where these drugs have come from, we don't know if they're going to work, it is a cocktail that's never been used before," Maly explained.

Lethal injection was adopted in Nebraska years ago, but no executions have been carried out by that method in the state.

A Lancaster County District Court judge has taken the legal challenge under advisement.

Related story:

Panel to Determine if inmate gets death penalty for killing cellmate

The Governor's office says all the drugs were purchased from a licensed U.S. pharmacy, and one of the drugs expires in August.  They added that the death penalty protocol is posted publicly online.  When examined by KMTV the protocol does not include the types of drugs used or how they will be administered.

Click to read the NE Dept. of Corrections Death Penalty Protocol