U.S. judge denies stay of execution for Missouri inmate

Reuters News
Posted: May 19, 2014 5:40 PM

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A federal judge on Monday denied a Missouri inmate's motion to halt his execution after his lawyers argued he had a rare health condition that could lead to extreme pain and suffocation resulting from the lethal injection.

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Phillips in Kansas City also denied inmate Russell Bucklew's request to have his execution, set for 12:01 a.m. CDT on Wednesday, videotaped to record what his lawyers said could be evidence of his suffering.

Lawyers for Bucklew, a convicted rapist and murderer, said in a news release the lethal injection would violate protections in the U.S. Constitution against cruel and unusual punishment, and they would appeal the rulings.

Bucklew, 45, would be the first U.S. inmate executed since the botched April 29 execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, who writhed in apparent pain after what prison officials said was a ruptured vein that prevented the lethal cocktail of chemicals from being delivered properly.

Lockett, a convicted murderer, died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the injection started.

In the motion late last week, lawyer Cheryl Pilate said Bucklew has malformed blood vessels in his head and neck that can rupture under stress, causing the lethal drugs to circulate improperly in his body.

Phillips ruled there was insufficient evidence to suggest Bucklew would suffer severe and needless pain.

Bucklew was convicted of killing Michael Sanders in southeast Missouri in 1996 and of raping Stephanie Ray, an ex-girlfriend who was seeing Sanders at the time of his death.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Grant McCool)