TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida became the first state in the nation to use a controversial new drug in an execution Tuesday night amid concerns that it could cause pain if it doesn't work as planned.
Convicted killer William Happ was executed for the 1986 murder of Angie Crowley in central Florida. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m.
Happ remained conscious longer and made more body movements after losing consciousness than other inmates executed recently with the old drug combination, according to The Associated Press.
The Florida Department of Corrections used a new sedative called midazolam hydrochloride as one of three drugs in the execution.
Florida was forced to change its drug protocol for executions after Danish pharmaceutical company Lundbeck took steps to prevent states from using its sedative in executions.
Opponents called the new drug protocol an experiment on a human being and questioned whether it would work properly.
State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who opposes the death penalty, shares those concerns.
She questions whether the new drug violates the Eighth Amendment as cruel and unusual punishment.
"I think it's one thing to stand alone on principle but it's another thing to be left alone on principle. It looks like the rest of the world is leaving the states that have, and continue to use these drugs to execute, alone. It looks like Florida is really an outlier in this."
Rep. Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, is concerned Florida is setting itself up to be sued.
"I think these are the kinds of things that we have to be concerned about when we're looking at the death penalty. We don't need it anymore and these are the kinds of complications and these are the kinds of issues that I think resonate around the world. Not only is it a moral issue, but it's certainly not smart for Florida to be left alone in this way."
Midazolam is the first drug pumped into an inmate to render the person unconscious. The next drug causes paralysis and the third stops the heart.
Florida is switching to midazolam because its supply of barbiturate pentobarbital expires next month.
Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman Misty Cash says the new drug was selected because it was considered the best option for the three-drug cocktail.
"This process was the most humane and dignified way and it was chosen because it would not inflict or cause any pain or suffering."
Happ apologized for the murder in his last statement.
"It is to my agonizing shame that I must confess to this terrible crime. I wish to offer my most sincere and heartfelt apologies, not only to those concerned for Angela Crowley, but also to those I deceived and allowed to believe in my innocence. I pray the good Lord forgives me, but I certainly understand why those concerned here, cannot."