The execution of 'Fiesta Killer' Tommy Lynn Sells is on again for tonight, but lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene in what has become a high stakes stare down over the source of the state's execution drug, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Sells, who kidnapped and murdered nine year old Bea Perez at Fiesta of 1999 was sentenced to death for the murder of a 13 year old girl in Del Rio and claims to have killed so many people that he uses the nickname 'Coast to Coast.'
His execution was ordered delayed by a federal judge in Houston yesterday, and then was reinstated by a federal appeals court last night.
Gerald Treece, a Professor of Constitutional Law at the South Texas College of Law, says the state needs to do a better job of arguing its case.
"You have an interesting argument raised by clever lawyers, that I think Texas needs to respond to more cleverly than saying 'it's none of your business,' Treece told 1200 WOAI news.
The state says revealing the source of the execution drug could put the pharmacy that sells the drugs at risk of violence from anti death penalty activists. A state official says one threatened to car bomb a pharmacy in The Woodlands after it was revealed that it provided the previous batch of Pentobarbital.
But Treece says in an issue as important as the government taking the life of a citizen, transparency is expected.
"Texas does need to step up and explain what the content is," he said. "If the state of Texas wants to take the life of someone, it has the duty to also explain what the content is."
Lawyers for Sells say without information about where the Pentobarbital came from, they cannot make a case as to whether executing him with it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. Lawyers cite cases in other states where condemned men appeared to be in pain while being executed with drugs obtained from compounding pharmacies. Drug companies have generally declined to sell death drugs to state prisons.