In brief

From Denver, where the new district attorney says she will not pursue the death penalty in murder cases, to North Carolina, which just marked 10 years since its last execution, the death penalty and its viability is being debated throughout the country.
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In Texas, 48-year-old Christopher Wilkins was executed Wednesday for killing two men in 2005. Wilkins was the first person to be executed in the U.S. this year; nine more executions are scheduled in Texas over the next few months, although it is unclear how many of them will be carried out.

In Denver, newly elected District Attorney Beth McCann says her office will not seek the death penalty in murder cases. McCann told 9News that a sentence of life without parole was just punishment, and the money saved on death penalty cases can be better used in other prosecutions.

In Washington state, which has had a moratorium on executions since 2014, Governor Jay Inslee granted a reprieve to Clark Richard Elmore, who was scheduled to be executed next week, and at the same time, called on the legislature to officially abolish the death penalty. The state’s last execution was in 2010.

In Arkansas, a Department of Corrections spokesman confirmed to the media that the state has run out of one of the three drugs it uses in executions, and doesn’t have a replacement. ABC News reported that the state’s supply of potassium chloride expired at the first of the year. Executions in Arkansas have been on hold while the state waits for a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of its execution secrecy law.

In Arizona, the Department of Corrections has agreed to stop using Midazolam in its two-drug lethal injection executions. The NY Times says the decision was part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by seven death row inmates. Executions were halted in Arizona after Joseph R. Wood III took almost two hours to die in a botched execution connected with the drug.

In Virginia, the Washington Post reports that a federal judge ruled that the state’s lethal three-drug protocol was “unlikely to cause serious pain and suffering” to Ricky Gray, who is scheduled to be killed next week. Two of the three drugs used, midazolam and potassium chloride, were produced by an anonymous compounding pharmacy, and Gray’s attorneys argued with no information about the pharmacy, the execution could amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

In North Carolina, there hasn’t been an execution in 10 years, and the state saw only one new death sentence in 2016, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Death penalty opponents say one reason for the low number is that, of the 156 death row inmates who have been exonerated since 1973, nine were from North Carolina.

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