Federal judge in Missouri rules lethal injections constitutional

Wednesday, July 16, 2008 | 12:36 p.m. CDT; updated 8:14 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri has ruled that the state’s method of executing condemned prisoners by lethal injection is constitutional.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan in Kansas City presumably opens the door for executions to resume after nearly three years.

Last July, a group of Missouri’s condemned prisoners challenged the state’s lethal injection process, saying the state had a history of using unfit and untrained personnel on its execution team.

But Gaitan, who two years ago issued a moratorium on executions in Missouri, now says the state’s revised procedures are constitutional.

On Friday, the Missouri Supreme Court postponed an execution scheduled for July 30, allowing the federal court to sort things out.

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