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Judge Approves Use of New Execution Drug in Okla. (Nov 22, 2010)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A federal judge in Oklahoma has approved the use of a new drug in the state's execution formula.

U.S. District Stephen Friot on Friday rejected a motion by two death row inmates who argued the use of pentobarbital amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment."

The judge said that the inmates' attorneys failed to prove that the new drug posed a "substantial risk of serious harm."  Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections ran out of sodium thiopental, a key component in the three-drug cocktail that causes unconsciousness. Instead, the state planned to substitute a similar drug called pentobarbital. That drug is used in animal euthanasia.

The inmates' attorneys said an appeal was likely.

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