ATLANTA (AP) - The Georgia Court of Appeals has temporarily halted Thursday's scheduled execution of a Georgia inmate convicted of killing two college students.
Andrew Cook is one of two Georgia inmates who had been scheduled to die by injection this week. Warren Lee Hill's execution was put on hold Tuesday, less than an hour before he was set to die.
In a combined legal challenge before the court, attorneys for Cook and Hill argue the state is violating the law by using pentobarbital in executions without a prescription.
The state filed court motions on Wednesday asking the Court of Appeals to deny Cook's request for a stay and lift the one granted in the Hill case. The state argues the prescription challenge is frivolous and seeks to have the case moved to the Georgia Supreme Court for an expedited review.
In its order, the court said it issued the stay so there would be time to consider their appeal.
Earlier Wednesday, it appeared that Cook's legal avenues to block the execution were narrowing, as the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request for a delay and the state Board of Pardons and Parole denied his clemency request.
Attorneys for Cook had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene, arguing his counsel was ineffective during the sentencing phase of the trial. In a petition, Cook's attorneys argued the trial attorneys had failed to present "any of the readily available mitigating evidence of their young client's life-long history of serious mental illness."
But the U.S. Supreme Court said Cook's application for a stay had been denied along with his petition for a rehearing.
Cook was convicted in the January 1995 slayings of Mercer University students Grant Patrick Hendrickson and Michele Lee Cartagena, who were shot several times as they sat in a car at Lake Juliette.
Authorities described the killings as random and said Cook had no interaction with Hendrickson or Cartagena prior to the shooting.