MIAMI (CBS4) – A hearing will continue next week in Miami on whether a Manuel Valle should be put to death by lethal injection for the murder of a Coral Gables police officer.

Valle, 61, had been scheduled for execution next Tuesday for the murder of officer Luis Pena 33 years ago but the state’s Supreme Court court issued a temporary stay after his attorneys questioned the use of a new drug, pentobarbital, used in the three drug lethal cocktail.  The high court ordered a Miami judge to hold a fact-finding hearing on a change in the state’s lethal injection procedure.  Valle’s attorneys maintain pentobarbital could cause pain in the amount prescribed by the state and constitute cruel and usual punishment.

The state’s Department of Corrections signed off on its use last month to replace a drug that’s no longer made.

Testifying by phone last Thursday for the defense Matt Schultz, a federal public defender, described the June 16th execution of Eddie Duval Powell in Alabama in which the new drug was used, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.  Schultz said Powell clenched his jaw, jerked up and looked confused for about a minute before he died.

To counter, the state had John Harper, with the Georgia Department of Corrections, describe the June 23rd execution of Roy Blankenship which he said was relatively non-event, according to the paper.

Both sides are expected to present their primary expert witnesses on Tuesday.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to lift the stay.

According to the Miami Herald, Valle would be the first Florida death row inmate executed using the new drug.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved.  This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald and the Associated Press contributed material for this report)


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