Michael Yowell, 43, murdered his parents 15 years ago and was executed for those murders last night in Texas. It marked the first time the state used pentobarbital as the lethal injection since European manufacturers began refusing to supply it for executions.
Yowell reportedly was on probation and looking for money when his parents found him stealing money from their home. He shot his father, John, in the face and then beat his mother, Carol, before strangling her with a lamp cord. Yowell then turned on the gas to the house and ran from the home; an explosion burned the victims' bodies and caused the death of his grandmother, Viola Davis.
"I came outside and noticed what had happened to the house, partially blew up," neighbor Charles McMillan told KCBD News. "The grandmother was in the front bedroom hollering for help. I went back in and tried to get the couple over there, not knowing they were already dead."
Yowell's lawyers tried to prevent the execution by arguing that the use of pentobarbital was unheard of in the U.S. and could not guarantee a quick and painless death. They appealed until the very last moment, but the last appeal was denied and Yowell pronounced dead at 7:11 p.m.
"I love you," he told his ex-wife and daughters before being injected. "To Gerald, you're a zero. I love you, Mandy and Tiffany. I love you, too. Whenever you're ready, punch the button."
Texas has executed 14 inmates to date and has plans to continue their executions, even though there is great contention over compound factories producing the needed pentobarbital. These pharmacies make specialized prescriptions, including pentobarbital, but have not run enough trials to ensure that the prisoner receives a painless death without complications.
The U.S. previously ordered the drug from European nations, but they refused to supply the drug when they learned that it was being used almost exclusively for lethal injections.