8th Circut Halts Missouri Execution

(AP) – A federal appeals court panel granted a temporary halt to the execution of Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew on Tuesday evening, hours before he was scheduled to die for killing a southeast Missouri man in 1996, citing concerns that Bucklew could suffer during lethal injection due to a rare medical condition.

“Bucklew’s unrebutted medical evidence demonstrates the requisite sufficient likelihood of unnecessary pain and suffering beyond the constitutionally permissible amount inherent in all executions,” the ruling from the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals read.

Cheryl Pilate, an attorney for Bucklew, said she was “relieved” by the ruling, though it doesn’t necessarily mean the execution is off. The panel’s ruling could be overturned by the full appeals court, or by the U.S. Supreme Court.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the state would appeal. Messages left with the Missouri Attorney General’s office were not immediately returned.

In a dissenting opinion, appeals court Judge James Loken said Bucklew’s medical evidence “simply does not satisfy the Supreme Court’s rigorous standards” for a stay of execution.

Bucklew, 46, was scheduled to be executed by injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. It would have been the first in the nation following a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month that left a condemned man writhing on a gurney before he died of a heart attack more than 40 minutes later.

Bucklew has a congenital condition known as cavernous hemangioma that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, as well as tumors in his nose and throat. His attorneys say he could experience great suffering during the execution process, and Bucklew told The Associated Press by phone last week that he is scared of what might happen.

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