The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended the execution of Russell Bucklew in a decision that came about an hour before the Missouri death row inmate was scheduled for lethal injection, Associated Press, or AP, reported Wednesday.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued the order to halt the execution, which had been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, AP reported, adding that, under Missouri law, the state can still carry out the execution within the next 24 hours if the state high court rejects Bucklew’s appeals. The 46-year-old Bucklew who reportedly has tumors in his nose and throat, also suffers from a congenital condition that causes the weakening and malformation of blood vessels, and his lawyers have argued he could suffer greatly during the execution process.
"The state does not have the right to inflict extreme, torturous pain during an execution," attorney Cheryl Pilate said, according to AP. "We still hope that Mr. Bucklew's grave medical condition and compromised airway will persuade the governor or a court to step back from this extremely risky execution."
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat who supports the death penalty, rejected Bucklew's clemency request Tuesday and it is now up to the courts to decide the inmate’s fate, AP reported.
Bucklew reportedly killed Michael Sanders, a man his girlfriend Stephanie Pruitt had moved in with in March 1996, and later raped Pruitt.