Stay granted for first person in line to be executed

Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | 2:48 p.m. CDT; updated 3:52 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court has postponed what would have been the first execution in the state in nearly three years.

The Supreme Court granted a stay of execution late Friday for 48-year-old John Middleton, who was scheduled to die by lethal injection on July 30.

Lawyers said Middleton is trying to join a federal lawsuit brought by other condemned prisoners. The suit challenges Missouri’s lethal injection process, citing the state’s history of using unfit personnel.

Middleton was convicted of killing people to hide his northern Missouri methamphetamine operation.

The last person to be executed in Missouri was Marlin Gray in October 2005.

Executions in the state were halted after questions were raised about Missouri’s lethal-injection procedure.

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