Law professor explains due process in death penalty cases

By Angela Hatcher - Reporter

RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - Virginia plans to execute Ricky Gray by lethal injection in nine days, unless a federal judge stops the execution.

Gray's attorneys are challenging the statute allowing Virginia to keep the name of the compounding pharmacy that prepared the execution drugs secret. They say it violates Gray's right to due process.

Caren Harp, an associate professor at the Liberty University School of law, is not associated with the Ricky Gray case, but explains the legal basis of his argument.

"Defendants want often access to the manufacturer, who it is that manufactured them, their process in manufacturing the drug," said Harp. "The makeup of the drug itself that's going to be injected into them so they can challenge that process if it looks at though it's going to create an eighth amendment violation, which means that their execution will be cruel and unusual."

Harp explains due process as the government following the law.

"It has to provide procedures, fair procedures, for people to challenge whatever it is that the government is trying to take,' said Harp. "If it's their life, their liberty, or their property there have to be fair procedures in place to give them a meaningful challenge."

Gray was sentenced to die for the 2006 murders of two young sisters in Richmond. He also killed their parents in a home invasion. Less than a week after those murders, Gray and an accomplice killed three more people.

Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved