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State sets new execution date for sword-and-dagger slaying

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court has set a new lethal injection date for a man convicted in the 1991 sword-and-dagger slaying of a pastor.

The Alabama Supreme Court scheduled Christopher Lee Price’s lethal injection for May 30. Price was set to be executed last month but the state death warrant expired at midnight before a divided U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay that blocked the lethal injection.

State justices set a new execution date even though a federal judge had scheduled a June trial to hear Price’s challenge to Alabama’s lethal injection process.

The judge on Wednesday denied his requests for a stay of execution or to move up the trial date. However, the judge asked Alabama to respond to Price’s request to prohibit the state from administering a paralytic agent, which is the second drug in the state’s three-drug combination, during his lethal injection.

His attorneys said the first drug, a sedative called midazolam, doesn’t guarantee unconsciousness and a second drug, a paralytic, needlessly increase pain by adding “an unnecessary suffocation element.”

His lawyers wrote in a Tuesday court filing that if the state contends the paralytic drug is needed to stop the expression of pain then “this will be tantamount to a concession of Mr. Price’s Eighth Amendment claim that midazolam is incapable of putting him into a deep, coma-like state.”

The state has until May 7 to respond.

Price was convicted in the 1991 slaying of Church of Christ pastor Bill Lynn. Prosecutors said Lynn, 57, was at his Fayette County home getting toys ready for his grandchildren when the power was cut. Lynn was stabbed to death when he went outside to check the fuse box.

A second man, Kelvin Coleman, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life in prison.

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