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UPDATE: U.S. Supreme Court won't stop Missouri execution

Tuesday, February 25, 2014 | 7:48 p.m. CST; updated 12:05 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 26, 2014

*This story has been updated with the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to halt the pending execution

JEFFERSON CITY — The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to halt the pending execution of a Missouri inmate who was convicted of abducting, raping and fatally stabbing a Kansas City teenager nearly 25 years ago.

Michael Taylor is scheduled for lethal injection just after midnight Wednesday. The high court issued its rulings about an hour earlier, shortly after Gov. Jay Nixon denied a clemency request.

In their appeals, Taylor's attorneys questioned Missouri's use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide the execution drug. They also say Taylor's original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty to lessen her own workload.

Others close to the case say they're shocked it has taken the state so long to carry out the execution.

Last week, the Oklahoma-based Apothecary Shoppe agreed that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor's execution. Attorney General Chris Koster's office announced in a court filing on Feb. 19 that a new provider had been found, but has refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state's execution protocol that allows forthe manufacturer to remain anonymous. Taylor's attorneys say use of the drug without naming the compounding pharmacy could cause the inmate pain and suffering because no one can check if the operation is legitimate and has not been accused of any violations.

"We have no idea about the track record of this pharmacy," Taylor's attorney, John Simon, said.

Pete Edlund doesn't want to hear it. Edlund, 69 and retired from the Kansas City Police Department, led the investigation into Ann Harrison's death. Taylor, 47, and Roderick Nunley were convicted of abducting, raping and killing the 15-year-old girl in Kansas City in 1989.

"Cruel and unusual punishment would be if we killed them the same way they killed Annie Harrison," Edlund said. "Get a damn rope, string them up, put them in the gas chamber. Whatever it takes."

Ann Harrison was waiting for the school bus on the morning of March 22, 1989, when Nunley and Taylor, then in their early 20s, drove past in a car they had stolen after a night while binging on crack cocaine.

One of the men jumped out of the car and grabbed Ann, forcing her into the vehicle. Both have claimed the other did it.

The men drove to the home of Nunley's mother. Ann was forced into the basement and raped — DNA testing linked Taylor. Afraid she would be able to identify them, the men used kitchen knives to stab the girl repeatedly, even as Ann begged for her life and offered money if they would let her live. She died about 30 minutes later.

Taylor and Nunley put her in the trunk of the stolen car, abandoned the car in a neighborhood then walked away.

The body was found three days later. Edlund said the crime went unsolved for about six months. A $10,000 reward led to a tip, and Taylor and Nunley were both arrested. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to death in 1991. After their sentences were overturned, they were again sentenced to death in 1994.

Missouri could be on pace for a record number of executions in 2014. Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court set a March 26 execution date for Jeffrey Ferguson, convicted of abducting, raping and killing a 17-year-old girl in St. Charles 25 years ago. Several other inmates on death row have also exhausted all but last-minute court appeals and could soon face execution.


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