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Georgia (Reluctantly) Releases Results Of Execution Drug Experiment

The results of the experiment don’t help the state’s case that its execution drug became “cloudy” because of the cold temperature it was stored in.

Posted on June 5, 2015, at 5:56 p.m. ET

Georgia Department of Corrections

Georgia's "cloudy" drug on the day it was supposed to be used in an execution.

Georgia officials finally released on Friday the results of an experiment to see what caused their execution drug to go bad, after initially withholding those results for two months.

The state called off executions after officials discovered particles floating in the drug they were about to use to kill inmate Kelly Gissendaner in March.

Georgia has contended that the likeliest cause for the floating particles was that the drugs were stored at too cold a temperature. The state's expert has said that is one possibility — another is that a pharmacist mixed the drug incorrectly.

State officials conducted an experiment: The pharmacist mixed up another batch of drugs, and then stored one in a cold environment and one at room temperature. If the cold one "precipitated" (particles appear), but the latter remained usable, then the experiment would suggest storage temperature was the cause.

But that didn't happen.

The results show that the state stored the "cold" version of the drug at a colder temperature than it had for the drug that originally precipitated, yet the drug was still clear in the end.

Georgia Department of Corrections

The room temperature version of the drug in the experiment was also clear.

Georgia Department of Corrections

In the filing, Attorney General Sam Olens' Office argued that "storing pentobarbital at temperatures that are too cold does not always cause precipitation." The filing added that the results "neither added nor detracted from" their contention that the drug went bad because of the temperature in which it was stored.

The inmate, Gissendaner, is arguing that the state botched her execution, even though she was not injected with the drugs, and contends she should not be executed. Her attorneys are expected to respond to the state next week.

The results follow a delay; BuzzFeed News first reported on how the state had kept the results hidden after promising that they would be public.

"After reflection and the current delay in the case, [the state] thought the better course of action would be to furnish this report now," Olens' office wrote in the court filing.

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