The Kentucky death row inmate stands against lethal injection thus gaining the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court. A three-drug formula is not the way he wants to die.
Ralph Baze, 52, had been scheduled to be put to death Tuesday until the Kentucky Supreme Court issued a stay of execution earlier this month. Now the Supreme Court has decided to hear his appeal, agreeing to review the first direct challenge to the constitutionality of how 37 states conduct executions.
"Nobody has taken the time to look at the facts," Baze told The Associated Press in an interview before his execution was halted.
Baze and fellow death row inmate Thomas Clyde Bowling Jr. sued the Kentucky Department of Corrections in 2004, claiming the state's lethal injection method violated the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Death penalty opponents have argued that if the condemned prisoner is not given enough anesthetic, he can suffer excruciating pain without being able to cry out.
The inmates lost that challenge, and the Kentucky Supreme Court upheld that decision. But the state Supreme Court delayed his execution while he appealed.
Baze shot and killed a sheriff and a deputy 15 years ago in Kentucky.
These days, he spends 23 hours a day in his cell.
When he does get a chance to speak to someone from outside the prison, Baze becomes animated, his blue eyes growing wide and his voice rising, as he claims the 1992 shootings were in self-defense. He says the officers fired first.
"I get loud when I get upset," said Baze, who is visited periodically by two of his daughters.
A third daughter recalled a frequently absent father who was "pretty fun, but he was just as dangerous as he is now."
Chantillie Baze believes her father is guilty, but has convinced himself otherwise.
"I believe he truly believes he's innocent or justified," she said.
Ralph Baze, whose execution has been stopped twice, said if he eventually loses in court, he will go without a fight.
"I've never tried to hide, good or bad, any of it," Baze said. "I'll take my punishment."