U.S. News


U.S. Supreme Court Grants Stay Of Execution For Mo. Inmate

A Missouri death row inmate's execution was delayed late Tuesday night just hours before he was scheduled to take his last breath.
Posted at 8:42 AM, Jan 29, 2014

A Missouri death row inmate's execution was delayed late Tuesday night just hours before he was scheduled to take his last breath.

"The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on two petitions regarding death row inmate Herbert Smulls. He was supposed to be executed just after midnight, but the high court granted him a stay." (Via KMIZ)

According to CNN, the order was sent out about two-and-a-half hours before 56-year-old Smulls was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

The Guardian reports Smulls' lawyers argued late into the night Tuesday that he should not be put to death until the state reveals the name of the compounding pharmacy that would provide the lethal injection drug pentobarbital.

CNN notes many defense lawyers have started using this argument as states try to find new drugs to execute prisoners with because many pharmaceutical companies aren't too crazy about their products being used in executions.

So, because of this, states are turning to compounding pharmacies that mix different drugs to create the lethal injection drug. But exactly what those drugs are, where they came from and whether they will cause any unnecessary pain and suffering are difficult to figure out.

As The Guardian puts it, "Smulls could be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being executed with drugs that have been only lightly regulated and have not been subjected to public scrutiny."

To avoid releasing the compounding pharmacy's identity, KOZL says the state claims it is part of the execution team and, therefore, it's name is private and cannot be released to the public.

But the argument was enough to catch the attention of the U.S. Supreme Court, and it granted Smulls a temporary stay of execution that his attorneys say they hope will become permanent.

According to KSDK, Smulls ended up on death row after he was convicted of killing a St. Louis County jeweler and seriously injuring his wife during a robbery in 1991.

KMOV spoke with a spokesperson for the warden's office at the Bonne Terre Correctional Facility early Wednesday morning, who said the execution team is scheduled to reconvene at 10 a.m.

But as KFVS points out, Missouri statutes allow executions to occur any time of the scheduled day. So if the U.S. Supreme Court decides in favor of the state Wednesday, Smulls could be put to death later in the day.

Smulls would be the third person Missouri has executed in the past three months.