A federal judge issued a stay of execution today hours before Oklahoma death row inmate Jeffrey Matthews was scheduled to be executed.
Matthews was convicted of killing Otis Earl Short, 77, and assaulting Short's wife, Minnie Delores Short, whose throat was slashed, during a 1994 burglary.
The Shorts' granddaughter, Carol Cowan, said nine family members were driving to the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Tuesday to witness the execution when they received a phone call regarding the latest stay, reported the Daily Oklahoman.
Federal Judge Stephen P. Friot in Oklahoma City issued the third stay Tuesday after Matthews joined in a lawsuit filed by another death row inmate and challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty.
Matthews' attorneys objected to the Corrections Department's substitution of one of the drugs used in Oklahoma's execution process.
The department wanted to substitute Brevital, a form of methohexital sodium, for sodium thiopental, which is normally used for sedation. During lethal injection, the sedative is administered first, followed by a drug that stops breathing and then a drug that stops the heart.
The stay will remain in effect until October 15, 2010.
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