Stay of Execution for Man With Blood Disorder
(CN) - A man described by a prosecutor as a "homicidal energizer bunny" won a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court based on his claims over the lethal-injection process.
Russell Bucklew was scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday, but Bucklew claimed in a lawsuit that his rare vascular condition could cause him to suffer cruel and unusual punishment during Missouri's lethal-injection process.
Bucklew's condition causes weak and malformed blood vessels and vascular tumors to grow in his head and throat. Bucklew claimed that his condition, as well as the state's secrecy surrounding its lethal-injection drug, increased the risk of something going wrong in the execution.
The U.S. Supreme Court made no comment in issuing the stay at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday. It released two orders on Bucklew's various petitions Wednesday. One denies Bucklew a stay, and the other says the 8th Circuit must resolve Bucklew's appeal. The 8th Circuit had denied Bucklew a stay on Tuesday without comment.
Since Bucklew's death warrant was issued for Wednesday only, the stay means his execution is postponed indefinitely.
"What this means is that the appeals court will hear Mr. Bucklew's claims under the Eighth Amendment that he faced a great likelihood of a prolonged and tortuous execution," one of Bucklew's attorneys, Cheryl Pilate, said in a statement. "Today's stay of execution will give the lower federal courts time to consider Mr. Bucklew's claim that his execution would violate his rights ... to be free from cruel and unusual punishment."
Bucklew was convicted in 1997 of first-degree murder, kidnapping, first-degree burglary, rape and armed criminal action. He shot Michael Sanders to death and then kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and raped her before being wounded in a shootout with police.
Later, Bucklew escaped from prison and attacked his ex-girlfriend's mother with a hammer. A prosecutor called Bucklew "a homicidal Energizer bunny" because of his persistence in going after his victims, the Southeast Missourian reported.
Bucklew's execution would have been the first one in the country after the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma garnered international headlines. In that execution, Lockett's vein collapsed while the lethal drugs were being administered. Lockett eventually died of a heart attack after prison officials called off the execution.
Bucklew's stay ends Missouri's run at six executions in six months. The executions resumed in November after Missouri announced that it would begin using pentobarbital from an unknown compounding pharmacy. The state defeated all six previous legal challenges, and all six inmates showed no outward signs of pain or suffering during their executions.