McMaster: Execution at 'dead stop' over lack of required drugs

Gov. Henry McMaster said the state does not have the necessary drugs to carry out a scheduled execution. (Source: WIS)
Gov. Henry McMaster said the state does not have the necessary drugs to carry out a scheduled execution. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - Gov. Henry McMaster called for the state legislature to enact a shield law so that South Carolina can obtain the necessary drugs to carry out executions, including one currently scheduled for Dec 1.

McMaster and told reporters Monday afternoon the execution of Bobby Wayne Stone cannot happen as scheduled because the state does not have necessary drugs to perform a lethal injection.

"The reason we don't have the drugs despite efforts, intense efforts to get them, because the companies that make them, the distributors who distribute them and the pharmacies who may have to compound them, don't want to be identified," McMaster said. "They're afraid that their names may be made known, and they don't want to have anything to do with it for fear of retribution or exposure of themselves, their families their businesses, all perfectly good reasons."

Stone, 52, is on death row for the 1996 murder of Sumter County Sheriff's Sgt. Charlie Kubala.

Citing an "inquiring press and inquiring people," he said it was easy to see why they would not want to be identified as being a part of the process of supplying the lethal drugs.

"So here we are at a dead stop, and we can't do anything about it unless and until our legislature enacts the shield law that Director Stirling asked for years ago," McMaster said.

"The state wants to carry out justice, the family deserves it, the court has ordered it, and we're unable to carry out justice," South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Brian Stirling said.

State law requires three drugs to perform a lethal injection. Stirling said the three drugs are pentobarbital, pancuronium bromide, and potassium chloride. The supplies of the drugs the state did have expired and have since been returned to their manufacturers.

Stirling said he warned the state's General Assembly a few years ago that South Carolina would eventually reach this point. He said other states that have passed a shield law are able to obtain the drugs necessary for lethal injection.

"The question was asked about what do we do when we get to December the first or some later date months after that. The easiest thing and quickest thing to do would be for the General Assembly simply to take this law up, take this bill up immediately and pass it," McMaster said.

South Carolina primarily uses lethal injection and hasn't carried out an execution since 2011.

"The people of South Carolina have been clear in their support of justice, including the death penalty, and in order to allow that death penalty law to function through the courts is to pass this shield law," McMaster said.

Stirling said the state's other method of execution, the electric chair, would only be an option if the courts ruled the drugs were unconstitutional since Stone selected lethal injection for his own execution, a choice the law allows.

Copyright 2017 WCSC. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.