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miércoles, 21 de mayo de 2014

Supreme Court Weighs Fate of Missouri Inmate Russell Bucklew

The fate of a Missouri death-row inmate who says his execution should be scrapped because he has a birth defect will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. Russell Bucklew was a couple of hours away from a lethal injection when Justice Samuel Alito temporarily halted the execution until his colleagues could weigh in. Bucklew's death warrant remains in effect until 12:01 a.m. Thursday, so if the Supreme Court removes the stay in that window, he could be executed.
Bucklew — who killed a romantic rival in front of his kids, kidnapped and raped his ex-girlfriend and wounded a police officer — suffers from a rare congenital illness that creates vascular tumors in his head and neck. His lawyers contend that the masses will likely prevent an injection of pentobarbital from circulating properly and that could drag out a painful death — violating the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Missouri says it's not clear that Bucklew would suffer, that he waited too long to challenge the execution on the basis of his illness, and that he had failed to propose a more humane execution protocol. On Tuesday evening, as the clock ticked down, an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel voted 2-1 to stay the execution, saying the state had failed to investigate whether Bucklew's illness would cause complications during the lethal injection. The state immediately appealed, and the full 8th Circuit tossed out the panel's stay several hours later. Within minutes, Alito put the brakes on the process. The Missouri Attorney General's Office submitted its brief to the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning, arguing that Bucklew has created the 11th-hour crisis himself. "Bucklew cannot argue that this Court should delay his execution in order to conduct tests that he alleges might produce a guide to improvements in the procedure for his execution when he could have made that claim months or years ago," the state wrote. Bucklew — described by one prosecutor as a "homicidal Energizer bunny" — was convicted of the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders, who was shot dead in front of his children. He then abducted his former girlfriend, Stephanie Pruitt, raped her in the back seat of his car and got into a gunfight with police. After his arrest, he escaped from jail, hunted down Pruitt's mother and attacked her with a hammer. Several of Sanders' relatives planned to be at the execution. Asked about the delay Tuesday night, his mother told NBC News, "I'm not too thrilled."


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