Execution date set for another Missouri inmate

Friday, February 21, 2014 | 4:17 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS — The Missouri Supreme Court on Friday set an execution date of March 26 for Jeffrey Ferguson, convicted of abducting, raping and killing a 17-year-old girl in St. Charles 25 years ago.

Missouri has executed three men since November. A fourth execution is set for Wednesday, when Michael Taylor is scheduled to die by injection for raping and killing a 15-year-old Kansas City girl in 1989.

Ferguson's death sentence also stems from a 1989 crime. He abducted Kelli Hall from the service station where she worked. Her body was found about two weeks later on a farm. An autopsy showed she had been raped before she was strangled.

The first conviction for Ferguson, now 59, was overturned because of a problem with jury instructions. He was convicted again in 1995 and was again sentenced to death.

Ferguson's attorney, Jennifer Herndon, did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Missouri is moving forward with executions even as states struggle to find drugs for lethal injection. Missouri has used a single drug, pentobarbital, for the past three executions.

But on Monday, the Oklahoma compounding pharmacy the Apothecary Shoppe reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed by Taylor and agreed not to provide the drug for Taylor's execution. Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office said in a court filing on Wednesday that the state has found a different pharmacy to supply pentobarbital.

Missouri's execution protocol does not allow for the supplier to be publicly identified. State officials declined comment.

Attorneys for death row inmates say that an execution drug obtained from a compounding pharmacy, which does not face the same level of regulation as larger drug makers, could cause pain and suffering for the inmate. They say the secrecy surrounding Missouri's process of obtaining the drug makes it impossible to know anything about the drug maker's reputation.

State officials note that the first three executions using pentobarbital occurred with no outward signs of suffering.

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