Texas Man Killed By Allegedly Expired Execution Drugs

By Victoria Kim 09/11/14

Willie Tyrone Trottie was given a dose of pentobarbital that his lawyers claimed was past its expiration date.

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Willie Tyrone Trottie was executed via lethal injection on Wednesday evening for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and her brother. Trottie, who was 45 this week, was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. CDT in Huntsville, Texas.

Claiming that “factual discrepancies in the evidence against Trottie remain unresolved,” his attorneys had filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking to defer his execution.

Trottie’s attorneys also contended that the dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital in the lethal injection was past its effectiveness date and could cause him “tortuous” pain, which is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment. The state responded that the drug’s expiration date was not until the end of the month and that tests showed proper potency.

Recent botched executions in Oklahoma and Arizona have raised concern about the drugs used for capital punishment. In these states, and others, midazolam is used in a two or three drug combination. The inmate who was executed in Oklahoma, Clayton Lockett, died of a heart attack more than 45 minutes after the lethal injection was administered. He reportedly writhed, moaned, and clenched his teeth before he was pronounced dead. In Texas, a single  lethal dose of pentobarbital is used for capital punishment.

The son of an abusive, alcoholic mother, Trottie died 22 minutes after the lethal dose was administered. His is the eighth execution in Texas this year and the 29th in the country. He is the 516th person to be executed in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976. Texas has been responsible for almost 40 percent of all executions in the U.S. since 1976.

Trottie fatally shot his ex-girlfriend, Barbara Canada, and her brother, Titus Canada, in 1993 after Ms. Canada left him and moved in with her family. Prosecutors said Trottie threatened to kill Ms. Canada if she didn’t return to him. He was acting on this threat when he forced his way into Ms. Canada’s parents’ house and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, also wounding Ms. Canada's mother and sister. Trottie had claimed the shootings were in self defense, and therefore not worthy of a death sentence.

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