Texas has executed five people so far this year, all using the same procedure. First, a barbiturate, pentobarbital, is administered to induce unconsciousness. Then a dose of pancuronium bromide paralyzes every muscle in the body. Finally, a dose of potassium chloride stops the heart.
That will change when Yokamon Hearn is strapped to the gurney today between 6 p.m. and midnight. His is the first execution to occur since the Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced last week that, with execution drugs in increasingly short supply, the state would switch to a single-drug protocol, using only a lethal dose of pentobarbital.
Hearn, as the Associated Press reports, pleaded guilty to the 1998 murder of Frank Meziere, a Plano stockbroker.
Hearn approached Meziere as he cleaned his car at a self-service car wash, then forced the 23-year-old stockbroker into the vehicle and drove him to an industrial park near Dallas' wastewater treatment plant. Meziere was shot 10 times with an assault rifle and then with a .22-caliber pistol, according to the AP.
Afterward, Hearn was said to have waved around a newspaper account of the crime and bragged about "doming" Meziere. Appeals based on his mental capacity have been denied.
Brantley, who has witnessed an execution in which the three-drug cocktail didn't work as advertised, argued here last week that the new procedure is more humane. Let's hope so. Let's also hope that Texas realizes that, after 483 executions, its time to join the rest of the civilized world and stop killing criminals, no matter how vile their offense.