Death row for decades: SC lacks lethal injection drugs for scheduled execution

Bobby Wayne Stone. (Source: SC Department of Corrections)
Bobby Wayne Stone. (Source: SC Department of Corrections)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The first execution in South Carolina in more than six years is set for Dec. 1, but that will likely be delayed.

The state doesn't have the injection drugs needed to carry out the death penalty for 52-year-old Bobby Wayne Stone. Stone is sentenced for shooting and killing Charlie Kubala, a sergeant with the Sumter County Sheriff's Office, in 1996.

Governor Henry McMaster and Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling announced they're seeking a law change to make access to the drugs easier. McMaster and Stirling say a "shield law" is required, to conceal the identities of the drug providers.

They say the problem is that drug companies don't want people to know they're connected to capital punishment. Some friends of Charlie Kubala at the Sumter County Sheriff's Office were disappointed for what they feel has been a prolonged process.

"It just gives you mixed emotions to some degree because of the fact that he's been on death row for quite some time now and so with that being said, you would think that we would be prepared to carry out the execution. But unfortunately, we're not so it is kind of disturbing," Chief Deputy Hampton Gardner said.

"I'm not the best humble person I know. We had a pretty good shift," Cpl. Eddie Hobbs said.

Hobbs has been part of the Sumter County Sheriff's Office for 34 years. He grew into the role with his good friend, Kubala. He still thinks of him every day.

"It's important to remember the love and joy that you had with him instead of the tragedy itself," he says.

Hobbs says Kubala was civic-minded as a deputy, but as a person, exuded joy. He isn't sure the death penalty will bring justice for Kubala but is ready for some closure he feels it could provide.

"We've had the trial. We've had the retrial, the sentencing phase and this comes upon. It's not about Mr. Stone, it's about Sgt. Charlie Kubala, and the love and joy that he gave this community and how it was away," Hobbs says.

Bobby Wayne Stone is sentenced for Kubala's death - capital punishment by lethal injection. But the one problem that may cause delay, is the lack of three drugs used for lethal injection.

SCDC needs a new supply. Stirling says what his department had, expired.

"So, here we are at a dead stop, and we can't do anything about it unless and until the legislature enacts the shield law that Director Stirling asked for years ago," Governor McMaster announced on Monday.

"We're kind of in an interesting place right now with what we're going to do," Stirling said.

Although not all of Kubala's friends support 'a life for a life,' some are frustrated the state isn't prepared for delivering punishment designed by law.

"But in this case, we'll never get a Charlie Kubala again. We'll never see Charlie Kubala again. So, does the punishment actually fit the crime? Again, like I said earlier, it's more of closure as opposed to justice," Gardner said.

Stirling says he will keep trying to get the drugs needed for execution before Dec. 1, but is calling on the General Assembly to act and pass that shield law.

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