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Missouri governor firm on plans for execution

May 19, 2014

TROY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said Monday that he doesn’t see any reason to halt the execution of an inmate whose attorneys claim he could suffer during the lethal injection because of a rare medical condition.

Russell Bucklew, who was convicted of killing a man during a crime spree in 1996, is scheduled to be the first person put to death in the U.S. since a botched execution in Oklahoma last month. His injection is set for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

“This guy committed very, very heinous crimes and while it’s a difficult and challenging part of this job, we’ll continue to move forward unless a court says otherwise,” Nixon told The Associated Press in an interview.

Bucklew, 46, has a congenital condition known as cavernous hemangioma that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, as well as tumors in his nose and throat. His attorneys, in several court filings and interviews, have said he could experience a great amount of suffering during the execution process, and Bucklew told the AP in a phone interview last week that he is scared of what might happen.

None of the six inmates executed since Missouri switched to pentobarbital last year have shown outward signs of pain or suffering. But when Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett’s execution went awry on April 29, it prompted renewed concern over lethal injection.

Lockett’s vein collapsed and he died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the start of the punishment. Oklahoma put on hold a second execution scheduled for the same night as Lockett’s death, while the state investigates what happened.

Many states, including Oklahoma and Missouri, have changed drugs they administer and refuse to disclose the source of the execution drugs. Death penalty opponents say the secrecy makes it impossible to ensure a drug couldn’t cause an inmate to suffer cruel and unusual punishment.

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