Saturday, 2 June 2007

Judge to hold hearing on execution protocol

By Scott SmithRecord Staff Writer

June 01, 2007 6:00 AM

SAN JOSE - A federal judge today is expected to question attorneys to determine if more hearings on the state's revised execution procedure are necessary and whether he should tour the state death chamber.

U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel is overseeing hearings stemming from the objections raised by condemned Stockton man Michael Angelo Morales, whose case indefinitely blocked all executions in California 15 months ago. Fogel ordered the state to revise its execution procedures, and the state unveiled them May 15.Attorneys for Morales, 47, raised objections to the state's lethal injection protocol, arguing it may cause Morales unconstitutional levels of pain.

The state's proposed changes included plans to better select and train execution team members and to build a modern lethal injection chamber. A new death chamber was being secretly built, but construction was halted when lawmakers learned of the project.

Officials said executions in California could resume by the end of the year if Fogel and legislators approve the revised plans.Morales was sentenced to die for the 1981 rape and murder of 17-year- old Terri Lynn Winchell of Stockton.

Contact reporter Scott Smith at (209) 546-8296 or

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