Tennessee Struggles With Proper Lethal Injection Technique

Convicted murderer Stephen Michael West was due to be executed tomorrow in Tennessee by lethal injection, but the state's Supreme Court put it on hold until a lower court figures out if authorities are killing prisoners the right way.

Last week, Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman ruled that the state's lethal injection technique "allows for death by suffocation while conscious." The drug in question is sodium thiopental — which is given in 5 gram doses and is supposed to knock the condemned out, before they receive two more drug injections. There have been other sodium thiopental-related issues in other states.

Bonnyman asked the state to come up with a way to check if the inmate was still conscious. The state decided that having a warden "gently shake" the inmate and touch their eyelashes was enough. Then yesterday, the court said that nudging a prisoner wasn't enough, and stayed West's — and three other death row inmates' — executions until they can figure it out, as long as they do it in 90 days.

And, according to The Tennessean, West had even put in an order for his last meal, too — an extra-large Domino's Pizza with everything (hold the black olives and pineapple). He surely doesn't mind missing that one.

[Image via Getty]