‘Mentally deficient’ Texas man to be executed using Lundbeck drugs

June 1, 2011

Texas is today (1 June) set to execute its second prisoner using drugs produced by Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck.

Gayland Bradford, who is said by his lawyers to be ‘mentally deficient’, will be the thirteenth person to be executed in the US using pentobarbital (also known as Nembutal) supplied by the Copenhagen-headquartered firm.

Bradford has spent more than half of his life on death row. Now 42, he was sentenced to death for a crime he committed when he was just 20. He has suffered from alcohol and drug dependence and a number of psychological disorders which psychiatrists say should have been treated earlier. Bradford’s conviction can be attributed in part to the ineffective assistance of his counsel (who failed to present a range of mitigating evidence at trial) and to the behaviour of the prosecution (who played a tape of the murder to the jury at trial).

Bradford has been described as ‘mentally deficient’, with an IQ of 68; in many states, such a low score would be evidence of incapacity to be executed (Virginia v Atkins).

Reprieve investigator Maya Foa said:

“That Texas should execute people with mental disorders should not surprise us; that Danish pharmaceutical firm and psychiatry specialist, Lundbeck, should not do all it can to prevent its drugs being used to do Texas’ lethal bidding, should never cease to shock us.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office on +44 (0)20 7427 1082

2. Gayland Bradford’s lawyers say he is “mentally deficient, with an IQ of about 68”.http://edition.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/10/08/texas.scotus.execution/index.html

3. Mr Bradford is set to be executed using a three-drug ‘cocktail’, of which Nembutal makes up the first part. Texas is one of several states to switch to Nembutal following domestic shortages of sodium thiopental, the drug previously used as the first stage in the cocktail.

4. Reprieve has suggested a range of possible courses of action to Lundbeck to put a stop to the use of its drugs in executions – a briefing on the issue can be found here: http://www.reprieve.org.uk/static/downloads/2011_05_12_PUB_NEMBUTAL_DISTRIBUTION_BRIEFING.pdf

5. Lundbeck’s drugs have so far been used in 12 executions across seven US states, as follows:

Alabama: Jason WilliamsArizona: Donald BeatyMississippi: Benny Stevens, Rodney GrayOklahoma: John David Duty, Billy Don Alverson, Jeffrey MatthewsOhio: Johnnie Baston, Clarence Carter, Daniel BedfordSouth Carolina: Jeffrey MottsTexas: Cary Kerr

These numbers are set to grow as more and more states are turning to Lundbeck’s drugs following shortages of the previously-used anaesthetic sodium thiopental.

6. Danish pension fund Unipension recently sold their shares in Lundbeck, citing concerns over their use in executions and the company’s unwillingness to engage with investors on the issue. Unipension told the Associated Press: “It has not been possible for Unipension to get a detailed report regarding Lundbeck’s efforts to ensure that its products are not used in an unwanted manner […] It has been our impression that Lundbeck did not want to engage in a genuine dialogue with us as an investor.”http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/05/13/general-eu-denmark-execution-drug_8465488.html