A three-judge panel of the Federal Appeals Court in St. Louis has upheld the stay of execution for Roderick Nunley who had been scheduled to die just after midnight.
Attorney General Chris Koster is preparing an appeal. The case is likely to become a matter for the United States Supreme Court one way or another.
Federal district Judge Fernando Gaitan, in Kansas City, had issued the stay, agreeing with Nunley’s attorney that Nunley should be given a sentencing hearing before a jury. When Nunley was convicted in 1991, he waived a jury trial, pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to death by a judge.
Koster maintains Nunley forfeited his right to have a jury hold a penalty hearing when he agreed to plead guilty and let a judge assess the penalty.
Nunley and another man are under a death sentence for the kidnap, rape, and murder of a 15-year old Kansas City girl in 1989.