Execution Stay Granted

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Condemned inmate William Castillo, who
until recently had declined to file appeals that could keep him alive, has won an execution stay from a federal judge.

The stay was issued by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones, in an order following Castillo's decision last month to join in a challenge of Nevada's lethal injection execution procedure.

The move by Castillo, represented by federal public defenders Mike Pescetta and Gary Taylor, was welcomed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which had filed the challenge in October
when Castillo was scheduled to die.

Castillo's execution was stayed just 90 minutes before he was to get a lethal injection for beating an elderly Las Vegas woman to death with a tire iron.

Castillo is the only one of the 84 convicts under sentence of death in Nevada whose execution is being delayed by a court stay.

Nevada's injection formula includes the use of pancuronium bromide, a muscle relaxant, along with sodium thiopental, a "downer" that causes unconsciousness and death in some cases, and potassium chloride, which stops the heart.

Castillo was sentenced to die for the 1995 beating death of Isabelle Berndt, 86, in Las Vegas after working on a roofing job at her home and finding a hidden house key. He and a female companion returned, burglarized the home and murdered Berndt.

Castillo set the home on fire to destroy evidence, but he later admitted the murder to a co-worker and confessed to police. His companion in the burglary and murder was Michelle Platou, now serving a life term with the possibility of parole.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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