UK & World News

  • 21 May 2014, 9:48

Missouri Execution Halted 'To Spare Suffering'

A court has suspended the execution of a US killer hours before it was due to happen because of concerns that he could suffer unduly.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito did not explain why he halted the execution of Russell Bucklew but lawyers had earlier argued that a rare medical condition could cause complications during the lethal injection process.

The 46-year-old was scheduled to die at 12.01am on Wednesday in what would have been the first execution in the US since the botched death of Clayton Lockett on April 29.

Lockett had appeared to be in significant pain during his execution, which took 43 minutes to complete and renewed the debate over the use of lethal injection.

Bucklew's lawyers had claimed a congenital condition that causes weakened blood vessels could lead to a similar outcome in their client's execution.

Pharmaceutical companies in Europe have stopped selling drugs for use in the death penalty - leading some states to turn to untested drug mixes.

The Supreme Court ruling came shortly after the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay of execution that had been granted just hours earlier by a panel concerned about undue suffering.

Though he did not outline his reasons, Justice Samuel Alito said he or the high court would have more to say on the matter.

Bucklew's lawyers have asked to tape his execution to record any evidence of suffering.

They also cited concerns about Missouri's secretive process of purchasing the execution drug pentobarbital.

Lockett lost a similar bid in the Oklahoma courts prior to his execution.

Six inmates have been executed in Missouri since the state switched to pentobarbital in 2013, with none showing outward signs of pain or suffering.

A Utah politician announced last week he would introduce legislation to bring back firing squads, giving death row inmates another option.

Bucklew was convicted of killing a man who was dating his ex-girlfriend as four children looked on. He also kidnapped and raped his ex.

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