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Judge Orders Texas Prison Agency To Disclose Execution Drug Supplier

In Texas, death row inmates receive lethal injections at a state prison in Huntsville.

A state judge has ordered the Texas prison agency to disclose to attorneys for two inmates its supplier of a new batch of execution drugs.
The ruling Thursday in Austin comes one day after attorneys for two death row inmates filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice seeking the information. Texas prison officials say they will appeal the ruling.

The prison agency lost its previous supplier last year after the compound pharmacy's name was made public and it received threats. Prison officials contend the identity of the new drug source should be withheld to protect the new supplier due to escalating threats.

The lawsuit against the state agency contends the prisoners cannot evaluate the risk that could result in them being subjected to unconstitutionally cruel pain.

Attorneys for convicted killers Tommy Lynn Sells and Ramiro Hernandez-Llanas filed a lawsuit demanding the Texas Department of Criminal Justice name the provider of the pentobarbital, the sedative the state uses for lethal injections.

The current supply of pentobarbital used for lethal injections in Texas expires April 1. Prison officials said last week they have a new supply but cited security reasons for declining to disclose the supplier's name.

Thursday's ruling by State District Judge Suzanne Covington stopped short of making the identity of the manufacturer public. But Texas prisons spokesman Jason Clark said the agency is still "disappointed" in the ruling.