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Tuesday, June 28, 2011 - 11:56am

Georgia Execution Central To National Case

Updated: 3 years ago.
Blankenship's head jerked several times and he appeared to gasp for breath after he was pumped with pentobarbital on Thursday in Georgia's death chamber. (Photo Courtesy of the Georgia Department of Corrections.)

The execution of a Georgia inmate who appeared to struggle last week will be at the center of a push to stop lethal injections using a controversial new sedative, even though they may never be able to prove that it caused the spasms in his last moments.

Capital defense attorneys say they plan to cite Roy Blankenship's execution as they urge courts to block executions using phenobarbital.

A growing number of states use the chemical amid a supply shortage of another drug that has been commonly used.

Blankenship's head jerked several times and he appeared to gasp for breath after he was pumped with phenobarbital on Thursday in Georgia's death chamber.

Some experts say the movements were a sign the execution was botched, while others say it's a side effect of the sedative.

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