The Supreme Court has put off the execution of a Missouri inmate with a rare medical condition who challenged the state's refusal to disclose the source of its lethal injection drug.
The justices on Wednesday said a lower federal court needs to take another look at the case of convicted killer Russell Bucklew.
Bucklew's attorneys said the combination of the secrecy surrounding the execution drug and Bucklew's medical condition affecting his blood vessels makes for an unacceptably high risk that he would experience extreme pain if injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital
Bucklew would have been the first inmate put to death since last month's botched execution in Oklahoma. Bucklew is on death row for killing a man during a 1996 crime spree.
A rare birth defect will keep Russell Bucklew from being put to death, for now. His execution has been scheduled for one minute after midnight Wednesday morning. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued the stay late Tuesday night. Alito's order does not explain why he suspended the scheduled execution, but it indicates that he or the high court will have more to say about the matter.
Bucklew's lawyers argued that a birth defect, Cavernous Hemangioma, could have caused a prolonged and excruciating execution.
In 1997, Bucklew was convicted and sentenced to death for raping his ex-girlfriend, then killing Michael Sanders in Cape Girardeau County. He also shot a gun at Sanders' six-year-old son.
The U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the appeals' courts ruling. Witnesses have been asked to return to the department of corrections in Bonne Terre at 10:30 Wednesday morning. If the court does overturn the stay, Bucklew's execution could happen anytime after that.
Monday, a lower court denied a request to stay the execution and a request to have it videotaped.
Bucklew's execution would have been the first since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month.
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