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US Supreme Court justice halts Missouri execution

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-21

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an order late on Tuesday suspending the planned execution of a Missouri inmate, little more than an hour before it was due to take place.

Alito’s order did not explain the reason why he had halted the execution of Russell Bucklew, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12:01am local time. But Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster issued a statement indicating that that his office understood that the Supreme Court would consider the case on Wednesday.

The order was issued shortly after the full Eight Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay granted to Bucklew hours earlier by a three-judge panel of that same court. The panel had halted the execution over concerns that Bucklew, who suffers from a rare medical condition, would experience undue pain during the lethal injection.

The panel’s 2-1 ruling read that Bucklew’s “unrebutted medical evidence demonstrates the requisite sufficient likelihood of unnecessary pain and suffering beyond the constitutionally permissible amount inherent in all executions.”

If the execution had gone forward as planned, it would have been the first one in the United States since an inmate in Oklahoma died of a heart attack following a botched lethal injection.

Bucklew, who was sentenced to death for killing a man from southeast Missouri in 1996, has a congenital condition known as cavernous hemangioma, which causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, as well as tumours in his nose and throat. In a phone conversation last week, Bucklew told the Associated Press that he was scared of what might happen.

“The state does not have the right to inflict extreme, torturous pain during an execution,” one of his lawyers, Cheryl Pilate, said. “We still hope that Mr. Bucklew’s grave medical condition and compromised airway will persuade the governor or a court to step back from this extremely risky execution.”

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

Date created : 2014-05-21

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