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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Supreme Court Divided Over Killer’s Execution

ST. LOUIS (CN) - Missouri executed a man early Wednesday for kidnapping, raping and killing a Kansas City teenager in 1989. It was the state's fourth lethal injection in the past four months.

Michael Taylor, 47, was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. at the state prison in Bonne Terre after the U.S. Supreme Court and the governor denied his last minute appeals. He offered no final statements and appeared to show no outward signs of distress during the execution, the Associated Press reported.

Taylor's attorneys argued the execution drug could have caused him inhumane pain and suffering. The drug, pentobarbital, was bought from a compounding pharmacy and was used in the state's previous three executions in which none of the inmates showed outward signs of distress, the AP reported.

The attorneys claimed that using a drug bought from a compounding pharmacy, which is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, ran the risk of causing pain and suffering during their client's execution. Taylor also claimed that his original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty.

Gov. Jay Nixon denied Taylor's clemency request and, in a split decision late Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Taylor's request for a stay as well. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented, citing a December opinion from 8th Circuit Judge Kermit Edward Bye on the execution of another inmate, Allen Nicklasson.

The 8th Circuit had not completed its review of Nicklasson's request for a stay based on a challenge to Missouri's lethal injection drug protocal when he was put to death. In the wake of that execution, Judge Bye called for added judicial scrutiny of how Missouri carries out them out.

"One must wonder at the skills of the compounding pharmacist," Bye wrote, according to NBCnews.com. "In fact, from the absolute dearth of information Missouri has disclosed to this court, the 'pharmacy' on which Missouri relies could be nothing more than a high school chemistry class."

Missouri switched to pentobarbital last year after using a three-drug method. At first, the state got the drug from the Oklahoma-based Apothecary Shoppe, but last week the pharmacy agreed not to supply the drug to Missouri for executions.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office disclosed to the A.P. that a new provider had been found, but refused to name the pharmacy citing the state's execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

Taylor's victim, 15 year old Ann Harrison, was in her driveway waiting for her school bus when Taylor and Roderick Nunley pulled her into their car, took her to a home and raped and stabbed her as she pleaded for her life. Nunley was also sentenced to death and is awaiting his execution.

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