Justices block Missouri execution

Over the objection of four justices, the Supreme Court tonight blocked Missouri from executing Russell Bucklew, who was scheduled to die tonight. Bucklew was convicted for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders, who was living at the time with Bucklew’s former girlfriend, Stephanie Ray. Bucklew kidnapped and raped Ray, and he wounded a state trooper during the shootout that preceded his capture. Bucklew argues that allowing the state to execute him by lethal injection would violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because he suffers from a rare disease that has caused “unstable, blood-filled tumors to grow in his head, neck, and throat.” If Bucklew has trouble breathing when the execution begins, he contends, the tumor in his throat could rupture, filling his mouth and airway with blood. As a result, he tells the justices, his “execution will very likely be gruesome and painful far beyond the pain inherent in the process of an…

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