Missouri Executes Killer

     BONNE TERRE, Mo. (CN) – Missouri today carried out the first execution in the country since a botched execution in Arizona in July highlighted problems with the process.
     Michael Worthington, 43, was pronounced dead at 12:11 a.m., just 10 minutes after the execution was scheduled to start. Worthington raped and strangled a 24-year-old college student in Lake St. Louis in 1995.
     The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stop the execution. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon also denied Worthington’s request for clemency.
     Worthington’s attorneys sought a stay in the execution, citing the botched execution in Arizona and two others in Ohio and Oklahoma. In Arizona, the inmate gasped more than 600 times and took nearly two hours to die.
     In April, an inmate in Oklahoma died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after the execution began. In January, an inmate snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before dying in Ohio.
     Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio all use midazolam as part of a two- or three-drug combination. Midazolam is commonly used to help patients relax during surgery.
     Missouri, however, uses a single drug called pentobarbital, which is often used to euthanize animals.
     Missouri has now carried out nine executions since switching to pentobarbital late last year. None of those inmates showed outward signs of distress during their execution.
     Critics have complained about Missouri’s secrecy surrounding the compounding pharmacy that provides the pentobarbital. Missouri has successfully argued that the pharmacy is part of the execution team and is therefore entitled to anonymity.
     Worthington pleaded guilty to strangling Melinda Griffin. He admitted breaking into Griffin’s apartment, choking her into submission, raping her and strangling her when she regained consciousness. Though Worthington confessed to the killing, he claimed he couldn’t remember details due to blackouts from alcohol and cocaine abuse.
     Worthington’s DNA linked him to the killing.
     “Mindy Griffin’s parents waited nearly two decades for justice for their daughter,” Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. “She was just 24 years old, finishing her final year of her studies at UMSL when her promising life was cut short. Tonight, Michael Worthington paid the price for his callous brutality.”

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