Following Wednesday’s execution in Huntsville, Texas now has only enough of the drug pentobarbital to carry out two more lethal injections before the state’s supply runs out.
The Associated Press reported in December that records obtained from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice through an open records request showed that the state had 12 doses of the execution drug in the agency’s inventory. That number was enough to carry out the first five executions in 2015 since each lethal injection calls for two doses with another two kept for reserve.
Three executions have been carried out in 2015 with eight more scheduled this year, including three in March.
Donald Newbury was put to death Wednesday evening for his role in the shooting death of 29-year-old Aubrey Hawkins during an armed robbery at an Irving sporting goods store on Christmas Eve in 2000.
Newbury was part of the group known as the “Texas 7,” which went on the run following an escape from a Texas prison when Hawkins was gunned down.
Condemned killer Lester Bower Jr. was set to be executed next week for the shooting deaths of four men in Grayson County more than 30 years ago. The U.S. Supreme Court granted Bower a reprieve Thursday.
There are two more executions scheduled on March 5 and March 11. If those executions are carried out, the state would need to find a new supply of pentobarbital or obtain an alternate drug before March 18 when Randall Mays is scheduled for lethal injection.
“We’re exploring all options including the continued use of pentobarbital or an alternate drug(s) in the lethal injection process,” TDCJ said in a prepared statement.
Texas was forced to find nontraditional suppliers of execution drugs in recent years because the usual vendors refused to make their drugs available following scrutiny from death penalty opponents.