Mon., June 16, 2014 8:26am (EDT)

Lawyers For Ga. Death Row Inmate Try Last-Ditch Legal Maneuvers Ahead Of Tuesday Execution
By Adam Ragusea
Updated: 1 month ago

MACON, Ga.  —  
Marcus Wellons is set to be the first person executed with Georgia's new secret source of lethal injection drugs. (Photo: courtesy Georgia Department of Corrections)
Marcus Wellons is set to be the first person executed with Georgia's new secret source of lethal injection drugs. (Photo: courtesy Georgia Department of Corrections)
Lawyers for a Georgia death row inmate scheduled to die Tuesday evening will try some last-ditch maneuvers in court Monday.

Marcus Wellons is set to be the first person executed with Georgia's new secret source of lethal injection drugs.

He would also be the first person executed in the United States since Clayton Locket, who died April 29 of a heart attack after Oklahoma prison officials failed to kill him with lethal injection drugs also sourced from anonymous pharmaceutical companies.

Lawyers need to know where the drugs are coming from, said Jen Moreno, staff attorney for the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and consultant for Wellons' defense team.

"To ensure that drugs are coming from sources that are legitimate, and that they're manufactured in ways that ensure that the drugs are what they say they are, and they're going to act in the manner that they need to act to ensure that the execution is carried out in a manner that comports with the constitution," she said.

Wellons' attorneys will appear before a federal court in Atlanta Monday, arguing that the secrecy amounts to a violation of their clients' civil rights.

Prison officials across the country claim that pharmaceutical companies won't sell the drugs anymore unless they can remain anonymous, and that doctors won't prescribe the drugs unless their identity can be protected as well.

But that shouldn't stop prison officials from releasing some basic information, Moreno said.

"You can protect the identity of the people but still make information about their qualifications and training available to attorneys and courts to ensure that they're qualified and competent to do what they're going to do," she said.

The American Medical Association's code of ethics states that doctors should not participate in executions.

Wellons also has his clemency hearing with Georgia's parole board scheduled for Monday morning.

He was convicted in 1993 of the 1989 rape and murder by strangulation of 15-year-old India Roberts. The two were neighbors in Cobb County.