A convicted murderer is still alive at this hour as the state awaits action by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Allen Nicklasson in 2005 (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Allen Nicklasson in 2005 (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

A federal appeals court is standing by a stay it placed on the execution of 41-year-old Allen Nicklasson. That caused Attorney General Chris Koster to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the stay vacated, and the Court said late last night it would not issue a ruling before 8 this morning.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O’Connell says that has put the execution on hold until at least 10 this morning, and security at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center has been stepped down for the night.

“We’re still at a heightened state of security but we know that an execution is not going to take place until at the earliest some time in the morning, so we’ll just report back at about 8 o’clock in the morning and we’ll await word from the Attorney General and the U.S. Supreme Court.”

O’Connell says prisoners at the

O’Connell says an execution could still happen today.

“An execution warrant is good for a 24-hour period so it’s good for all of December 11.”

Nicklasson was sentenced to death in 1996 for the 1994 murder of Richard Drummond, a businessman who had stopped to help Nicklasson and two other men whose vehicle broke down on Interstate 70. One of those men, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009 for Drummond’s murder. The third, Tim DeGraffenreid, is still in prison.

Nicklasson and Skillicorn also killed a couple in Arizona who offered them help when their car became stuck in the desert there.  They were sentenced to life in prison in Arizona.

Nicklasson had been scheduled to be executed on the morning of October 23 in what was to have been the state’s first use of the anesthetic propofol as an execution drug. His execution was delayed amid controversy about the use of that drug.

The state has since announced a protocol utilizing pentobarbital provided by an unnamed compounding pharmacy, and the first execution using that method was conducted November 20 on convicted murderer Joseph Paul Franklin.

Stays granted in capital punishment cases are not unusual and do not mean the execution won’t happen.

Last month two stays were issued before the execution of white supremacist Joseph Paul Franklin. Like Nicklasson, his lethal injection was scheduled for 12:01 in the morning but Franklin was not executed until after 6 that morning.

The Missouri Supreme Court denied a stay for Nicklasson on Monday.