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Death Penalty By Electric Chair Could Make A Comeback For US Executions

06/02/2014 10:58 GMT | Updated 06/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Virginia could revive the electric chair as a method to execute prisoners, as European companies and one major distributor in the US block the sale of drugs required for lethal injections.

Experiments with a new 'cocktail' of drugs have proved controversial so far. Last month, murderer Dennis McGuires took 25 minutes to die, and was seen gasping painfully in his last moments when he was executed in Ohio.

The Washington Post reported that Virginia could soon have the power to compel prisoners to the electric chair, with a new law going through the state government's house of representatives.

electric chair

Virginia could revive the electric chair as a method to execute prisoners

At the moment, death row prisoners in Virginia are allowed to choose between lethal injection and electrocution.

If lawmakers block the plan, a de facto moratorium on executions could be forced by inmates, who could legitimately demand execution by lethal injection, with the state having no facilities to carry that out.

This week, Suzanne Basso became the fourteenth woman to be executed in the US in the modern era after a last-minute appeal to the Supreme Court failed.

The 59-year-old, found guilty of the torture and murder of a mentally disabled man, was killed using lethal injection in Texas. Only four women have been executed in the US since 2002, but three of them have been in Texas. The state is responsible for more than a third of the total number of prisoners executed in the US.

Her defence team had argued Basso was delusional, mentally incompetent, and that no testimony or evidence showed that she personally killed Louis "Buddy" Musso.

Basso had lured Musso to a suburb on the pretence that she would marry him, but Musso was set upon by a gang, and killed after being beaten with baseball bats and kicked with steel toe boots.

Her five co-defendants were not sentenced to death.