Judge rules Bobby Joe Long's execution drug not 'cruel'

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Serial killer Bobby Joe Long can indeed be executed by lethal injection, a Hillsborough judge ruled Monday, rejecting claims that Long would have an adverse reaction to the lethal drug mix.

Attorneys for Long argued that such a reaction would amount to cruel and unusual punishment.

During a hearing Friday, a doctor from California had testified about the anesthetic drug etomidate, which is one of the first drugs administered during the execution. Dr. Steven Yun said Long should not have any an adverse reaction to the drug, based on the serial killer’s medical history. 

However, Long’s attorney said his client had traumatic brain injury when he was younger and suffers from epilepsy. He argued that his condition, coupled with the cocktail of lethal drugs, could cause him to have a seizure during the execution.

During the hearing, Long's attorney challenged the doctor's expertise, pointing out he didn’t read up on the drug before his testimony.

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"As a critical practicing anesthesiologist, I don't need to read basic textbooks to review my knowledge on etomidate, the same way I don't need to review my car manual to drive my car," explained Dr. Yun.

In Monday's ruling, Judge Michelle Sisco questioned some of the testimony by defense witness Dr. David Lubarsky, even referring to one of his points as "highly speculative."

"The Court finds the testimony of Dr. Yun to be more credible than that of Dr. Lubarsky," she wrote. "Even if [Long] had a seizure, the Court finds credible Dr. Lubarsky's testimony that the seizure itself is not painful, as well as Dr. Yun's testimony that [Long] would be unconcious and insensate."

In addition to rejecting the drug claim, Judge Sisco also rejected a handful of other requests by Long's team related to the upcoming exection. Any further appeals will go to the state Supreme Court.

Long is responsible for the murder of at least eight victims and kidnapping and torture of at least one other.  He was convicted and sent to Florida’s death row in 1986. 

Governor Ron DeSantis signed his death warrant, and his execution date was scheduled for May 23. 

Lisa McVey, a survivor who escaped Long's clutches and because a Hillsborough County deputy, said she plans to attend the execution.