Date for Cult Leader Ryan execution sought
Cult leader Michael Ryan could be Nebraska’s first death row inmate to die of lethal injection now that the state has obtained a new supply of a drug necessary to carry out the execution.
Attorney General Jon Bruning asked the Nebraska Supreme Court on Thursday to set an execution date for Ryan, convicted in the 1985 murders of two cult members at a survivalist compound near Rulo, Neb.
“The State of Nebraska is prepared to conduct a constitutional execution and requests this court to order the enforcement of Ryan’s sentence of death,” said Bruning’s high court filing.
Because Nebraska previously had obtained one of three lethal injection drugs from an unlicensed source in India, the courts earlier this year blocked an attempt to execute another death row inmate.
But on Thursday, the Nebraska Department of Corrections announced it had purchased $5,411 worth of sodium thiopental from a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland.
The powerful sedative is no longer manufactured in the United States and can be difficult to find abroad. Nebraska recently acquired two batches of the drug totaling 485 grams.
“With the receipt of this chemical, (the state) stands ready to fulfill its statutory obligation with regard to capital punishment,” Corrections Director Robert Houston said in a statement.
When Ryan was sentenced in 1986, the state’s method of execution was the electric chair. But in 2008, electrocution was ruled cruel and unusual punishment, a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Nebraska lawmakers switched to lethal injection in a special session in 2009.