Houston – The nation’s most active death-penalty state has turned to a compounding pharmacy to replace its expired execution drugs, according to documents released Wednesday, weeks after Texas prison officials declined to say how they obtained the drugs amid a nationwide shortage.
The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Associated Press, released documents showing the purchase of eight vials of the drug pentobarbital last month from a compounding pharmacy in suburban Houston. Such pharmacies custom-make drugs but aren’t subject to federal scrutiny.
Texas’ previous supply of the sedative expired last month, but prison officials wouldn’t say where they were getting their new supply. Several companies have been refusing to sell the drug for use in executions, leading to a shortage in death-penalty states, though at least South Dakota and Georgia have also turned to compounding pharmacies.
The disclosure came a day after a federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of three death-row inmates who are challenging the state’s use of the new drugs.
The lawsuit, filed in Houston, contends that Texas’ use of untested drugs during an execution would violate the U.S. Constitution’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Airport bomb threat turns out to be hoax
Jacksonville, Fla. – As passengers took off their shoes and waited to go through security at the Jacksonville International Airport, a man in a coat, boots and sunglasses tried to bypass the checkpoint, then told an agent he had a bomb in his backpack, authorities and a witness said.
In the end, it was a hoax, authorities said. All Zeljko Causevic had in his camouflage backpack Tuesday night was a small luggage scale, a couple of batteries, a microchip and a cellphone. But the scare was enough to evacuate the airport and strand travelers on planes on the tarmac for hours.
Catherine Swan-Clark, who is seven months pregnant, was waiting to get a pat-down when she saw security agents gather around a man she believed to be Causevic, a U.S. citizen who is originally from Bosnia.
“So you’re telling me you have a bomb?” Swan-Clark heard a Transportation Security Agency agent ask him. “And he responded yes, ‘I have a bomb.’ ”
Causevic, 39, was being held on $1 million bail Wednesday. He remained silent during his brief hearing before Duval County Court Judge Russell Healey on charges of making a false report about planting a bomb and possessing a hoax bomb.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force interviewed Causevic, and the FBI, airport police and the Jacksonville sheriff’s office are continuing to investigate. Airport spokesman Michael Stewart said a package that was originally described by authorities as containing a destructive device turned out to be harmless.