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Ind. seeks first execution since 2009 after acquiring lethal injection drug

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said that the state is seeking an execution date for Joseph Corcoran, a man convicted in the killings of four people in 1997

Death penalty file photo

FILE - Alabama’s lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., is pictured in this Oct. 7, 2002 file photo. (AP Photo/File)

DAVE MARTIN/AP

By Isabella Volmert
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state will resume executions for the first time in over a decade after acquiring a drug used for lethal injections.

Holcomb said that the state is seeking an execution date for Joseph Corcoran, a man convicted in the killings of four people in 1997. Republican Attorney General Todd Rokita filed a motion Wednesday asking the state Supreme Court to set an execution date.

Indiana’s last execution was in 2009, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Matthew Eric Wrinkles was executed for the murders of his wife and her brother and sister-in-law.

The yearslong pause has been attributed to the unavailability of lethal injection drugs.

The Indiana Department of Correction now has acquired a drug used by multiple states in lethal injections — the sedative pentobarbital — after “years of effort,” Holcomb’s announcement said.

“Accordingly, I am fulfilling my duties as governor to follow the law and move forward appropriately in this matter,” Holcomb said.

Corcoran’s attorney, federal defender Larry Komp, said they will respond to the state’s motion and request clarity on the state’s lethal injection protocol.

A Department of Correction spokesperson did not immediately respond to voicemail and emailed messages seeking further information on how the state acquired the drug.

Pentobarbital was first introduced in 2010, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

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Some states are looking for new ways to execute inmates because the drugs used in lethal injections, the most common execution method in the United States, are increasingly difficult to find. Alabama was the first state to use nitrogen gas in an execution earlier this year.

Federal appeals from Corcoran, 49, came to an end in 2016. He is being held at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, according to Department of Correction online records.

Corcoran, from Fort Wayne, was convicted in the July 1997 killings of his 30-year-old brother, James Corcoran; 30-year-old Douglas A. Stillwell; 32-year-old Robert Scott Turner; and 30-year-old Timothy G. Bricker. He’s been on death row since 1999.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, Indiana has eight people on death row.

In 2020, the first federal execution in 17 years at the time was carried out at a federal prison in Indiana.