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UPDATE: Court Rejects Okla. Execution Protocol Challenge (Dec 14, 2010)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A federal appeals court has rejected a death row inmate's challenge of Oklahoma's plans to use a different anesthetic in its execution protocol.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the state's plans to use pentobarbital because of a nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental, the sedative normally used. Jeffrey Matthews had appealed a lower court ruling.

The appeals court said state witness Dr. Mark Dershwitz "persuasively characterized" the plan to use a 5,000 milligram dose of pentobarbital as an enormous overdose that alone likely would be fatal.

Matthews was convicted of killing his great-uncle in 1994. A Jan. 11 execution date was set Tuesday. Attorney General Drew Edmondson says the court ruled the drug doesn't violate Oklahoma execution statutes. Matthews' attorney didn't return a call seeking comment.

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