By KRISTIN M. HALL
NASHVILLE - A Tennessee judge has ruled that the state's lethal injection method is unconstitutional, settting up a showdown before the state's high court over how it executes prisoners.
Davidson County Chancellor Claudia Bonnyman sided with defense attorneys who argued the mix of drugs used by the state could allow condemned inmates to die by suffocation while awake. Bonnyman heard testimony from several medical experts.
The state Attorney General's office said it would likely appeal Bonnyman's ruling. The state's high court also technically must make the decision of whether to delay the execution of Stephen Michael West, whose lawyers argued the lethal injection issue before Bonnyman.
The state Supreme Court had already delayed the execution once to allow Bonnyman to hear the arguments. West is currently scheduled to be executed Nov. 30 for killing a Tennessee woman and her teenage daughter.