Missouri set to execute inmate who has rare health defect

KANSAS CITY, Missouri Tue May 20, 2014 11:21am EDT

Death row inmate Russell Bucklew is shown in this Missouri Department of Corrections photo taken on February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Missouri Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

Death row inmate Russell Bucklew is shown in this Missouri Department of Corrections photo taken on February 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Missouri Department of Corrections/Handout via Reuters

Related Topics

U.S. Secret Service provide security for President Barack Obama in Pensacola, Florida, June 15, 2010. REUTERS/Jim Young

Protecting the President

The Secret Service detail surrounding President Obama.  Slideshow 

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Missouri is set to execute early Wednesday a convicted killer whose lawyers have said has a rare health condition that could lead to extreme pain and suffocation during a lethal injection.

Russell Bucklew, 46, 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.

Bucklew was convicted of the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders in southeast Missouri, and the kidnapping and rape of Stephanie Ray, an ex-girlfriend who had been seeing Sanders. He is scheduled to die early Wednesday at a Missouri state prison.

Lawyers for Bucklew are seeking a stay of his execution, arguing that malformed blood vessels in Bucklew's head and neck could rupture under stress, causing the lethal drugs to circulate improperly and cause him undue suffering.

Attorney Cheryl Pilate also has asked the courts to require the execution to be videotaped to preserve any evidence should Bucklew's death be prolonged and excruciating or if he chokes and suffocates.

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Phillips on Monday denied the stay and the request to have his execution videotaped. Phillips ruled there was insufficient evidence to suggest Bucklew would suffer severe and needless pain.

Bucklew's lawyers have appealed that ruling.

Missouri's correction department said in court papers that Bucklew's condition dates back many years and he did not have to wait until days before his execution to raise the issue.

He has had surgery while under anesthesia and there is no reason to believe anesthesia won't be effective prior to administering the lethal drugs, the department said.

The department also has opposed the videotaping of the execution, saying that allowing it "could lead us back to the days of executions as public spectacles."

If the execution is carried out, Bucklew would be the fifth person put to death by Missouri in 2014 and the 21st person executed in the United States, including Lockett.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by David Bailey and Eric Walsh)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (11)
WarrenX148 wrote:
Yes, what a great idea. Let’s continue worrying about whether convicted murders committing crimes heinous enough to be placed on death row will “suffer”.

May 20, 2014 9:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ccharles wrote:
With consideration of what he is dying for, his pain or suffering or whatever is moat. They need a long hard way out, that would be a better deterent to crime then what they are attempting to do with this conversation. What they are calling a botched execution wasnt botched, didnt go the way they planned, but he died.

May 20, 2014 9:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jenniferlynn wrote:
I am so tired of hearing about these death row inmates trying to get out of being put to death by claiming undue suffering. Worst excuse ever. They should suffer since their victim likely had to go through MUCH WORSE suffering. Not to mention the suffering of the victims loved ones that they will feel until they pass on themselves. These crimes affect so many people and it seems as soon as sentencing is over, the victims are forgotten. The only people that should have any say in whether this man or any other death row inmate doesn’t get executed are any surviving victims and the immediate family members of victims. If they don’t feel he should die, then by all means, keep him alive. We shouldn’t be worried about the well being of a convicted killer. If my child was killed, I would want to see the person responsible die slowly and painfully, just as they deserved.

May 20, 2014 10:00am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Retirement Road Map