Lawyers For Hansen Question Execution Procedure

Lawyers for Tracy Hansen, the death row convict scheduled to die next Wednesday, are questioning the training of the execution team that will administer Mississippi's first-ever lethal injection.

Attorney Charles Press said without a doctor present at the execution, no one will be able to monitor Hansen's heart and that he could suffocate.

Hansen is sentenced to die for the 1987 murder of Highway Patrolman Bruce Ladner in Harrison County. Jennifer Griffin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections, said she did not know if the state executioner has a medical background, but said his assistants do.

Theodore Amman, a philosophy professor at Millsaps College, said society should care if Hansen dies from suffocation or from the lethal drugs.

He said that "if it didn't matter then we could just as easily justify a quick, painless death as we could torturing someone slowly over hours or days.''

In a separate development Tuesday, Representative Erik Fleming of Jackson asked Governor Ronnie Musgrove to commute Hansen's death sentence, calling all forms of killing "reprehensible.''

Musgrove said he would discuss the clemency request with staff, but that he supports capital punishment.