September 20, 2014

U.S. Supreme Court stays Russell Bucklew execution, Gov. Nixon denies clemency

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a stay of execution for condemned Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew. He was sentenced to die by lethal injection after midnight Wednesday morning for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders.

Russell Bucklew (courtesy, Missouri Department of Corrections)

Russell Bucklew (courtesy, Missouri Department of Corrections)

Attorney General Chris Koster (D) says the full Court is anticipated to consider Bucklew’s pending requests on Wednesday. He notes in his statement that the execution warrant for Bucklew is valid through midnight, Wednesday night, meaning the execution could be carried out any time May 21.

Bucklew’s attorneys argue that he suffers from malformed blood vessels that could increase the risk of pain and suffering or a prolonged lethal injection.

The timing of this stay by the U.S. Supreme Court is similar to events leading up to the execution of Allan Nicklasson in December.  He had been scheduled to be executed at 12:01 the morning of December 11 but a stay was issued by the Court late the night before, with the Court hearing arguments on December 11.  His execution was eventually carried out after a delay of nearly 23 hours.

Governor Jay Nixon (D) has meanwhile denied a petition for clemency for Bucklew.

In his statement, Nixon says, “Russell Bucklew came to the home of Michael Sanders armed and with the intent to murder him. After storming into the home and fatally shooting Mr. Sanders, Bucklew fired a shot at Sanders’ six-year-old son, but missed. Bucklew then continued on a rampage of violence, including the armed kidnapping and rape of his former girlfriend and a shootout with the Missouri State Highway Patrol that left a trooper wounded. The jury in this case properly found that these heinous crimes warranted the death penalty, and my denial of clemency upholds the jury’s decision.

“I ask that the people of Missouri remember Michael Sanders and keep his family, as well as the other victims of Russell Bucklew’s crimes, in their thoughts and prayers.”