(Reuters) - Missouri is scheduled on Tuesday to execute a man convicted of murdering a 19-year-old girl he encountered during a traffic accident in 2001.
David Zink, 55, is scheduled to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. CDT (1900 ET) at a state prison for the murder of Amanda Morton of Strafford, Missouri. He would be the fifth person executed in the state this year.
Police found Morton's body in a cemetery. She had been strangled, her neck had been broken and her spinal cord sliced with a knife, according to court records.
Lawyers for Zink have filed a flurry of appeals seeking to halt the execution, including claims that Missouri officials will be violating federal law by using compounded pentobarbital in the execution.
Zink is the named plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by a group of death row inmates in Missouri against state officials alleging its lethal-injection protocol is unconstitutional and creates a substantial risk of severe pain.
The allegations are part of a national debate about the use of compounded drugs in U.S. executions amid a shortage of traditionally used pharmaceuticals.
Missouri had adjusted its execution protocol over the last few years as drug shortages and questions about compounded drugs have arisen. Previously, Missouri’s lethal-injection protocol involved three drugs, but in 2012 the state revised it to use a single drug, propofol, as the lethal agent. The state then revised its protocol again to use pentobarbital as the sole lethal drug.
Zink had previously been convicted and imprisoned for abducting and raping a woman. According to court records, he told authorities in a videotaped confession that he rear-ended Morton's car on an exit ramp, then abducted the young woman and killed her because he feared he would be sent back to prison.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)