A Missouri inmate was executed early Wednesday for the rape and murder of a college student, after the U.S. Supreme court and the state's governor denied his request for a stay, making him the first person to be executed since an Arizona execution went awry last month.
Michael Worthington was executed at 12:01 a.m. EDT at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo., according to reports, and was pronounced dead at 12:11 a.m. The latest execution by lethal injection comes amid questions raised over the procedure following a series of botched executions across the country. A clemency request from Worthington, who was the seventh inmate in Missouri to be executed this year, was denied by Gov. Jay Nixon, shortly after his plea for a stay of execution was denied.
“Mindy Griffin’s parents waited for nearly two decades for justice for their daughter. She was just 24-years old, finishing the final year of her studies at UMSL (University of Missouri–St. Louis) when her promising life was cut short. Tonight, Michael Worthington paid the price for his callous brutality,” Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement, according to BuzzFeed.
Worthington’s attorney reportedly urged the Supreme Court to call off his execution by citing the lengthy execution in Arizona and two other botched executions -- one each in Oklahoma and another in Ohio -- in recent months. The attorney also reportedly raised doubts about the drugs used during in the process in Missouri.
"I figure I'll wake up in a better place tomorrow," Worthington, previously of Peoria, Illinois, said, earlier Tuesday, according to AP. "I'm just accepting of whatever's going to happen because I have no choice. The courts don't seem to care about what's right or wrong anymore."
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Worthington was sentenced to death in 1998 after pleading guilty for the September 1995 rape and murder of Griffin in Missouri, while DNA tests and other stolen items that were in the possession of the 43-year-old man also reportedly proved his guilt.
"There is no question about the brutality of this crime -- or doubt of Michael Worthington's guilt," Nixon reportedly said, while rejecting his clemency.
The nearly two-hour-long execution of Arizona death row inmate Joseph Rudolph Wood was a prolonged procedure, and kept him “gasping and snorting for more than an hour” after the lethal injection was injected. But, state officials reportedly said that calling the execution a botched procedure was an "erroneous conclusion" and "pure conjecture."
In April, Clayton Lockett, an Oklahoma death row inmate died of a heart attack minutes after a doctor halted his execution when the procedure went awry. In January, an Ohio execution was also reportedly botched as the inmate gasped for about 26 minutes before dying.
According to reports, at least 21 death row inmates have filed lawsuits against the use of lethal injection since the Oklahoma execution, claiming that the three-drug protocol is a cruel and unusual method of punishment.