High Court to Hear Lethal Injection Case

High Court to Hear Lethal Injection Case

Ralph Baze was waiting for the two police officers who came to arrest him on Jan. 30, 1992, at his cabin in rural Powell County, Ky. Hiding in a bush outside the cabin, Baze attacked them from behind with an assault rifle, firing multiple rounds into their backs and killing them within seconds.

Two years earlier in Lexington, Ky., Thomas C. Bowling Jr. crashed his car into another car parked outside a dry-cleaning business. Bowling emerged from the wreck, drew a gun and repeatedly fired it into the other vehicle, killing the couple sitting inside and wounding their 2-year-old son.

Baze and Bowling both were convicted of first-degree murder and sent to Kentucky's death row, where for years they have awaited execution by lethal injection. But their executions — along with those of all other inmates facing lethal injection across the country — have been on hold since last September, when the U.S. Supreme Court granted the two men the rare chance to bring a challenge to a method of capital punishment to the nation's highest court.

Oral arguments are scheduled for January 7, 2008, in Baze v. Rees, the joint lawsuit brought by Baze and Bowling against John D. Rees, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Corrections, and two other state officials, including former Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R). In the lawsuit, the prisoners claim the three-drug combination used to put inmates to death in Kentucky — and in the 35 other states that allow lethal injection — violates the U.S. Constitution's ban against cruel and unusual punishment.

Read the full report High Court to Hear Lethal Injection Case on Stateline.org's Web site.