Missouri execution policy
The Supreme Court plans to review the execution drug being used on prisoners to ensure that the chemicals do not cause needless pain.
Lisha Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, was robbed and murdered in 1998, and her killer is currently on Missouri's death row.
A separate legal challenge to Missouri's execution protocol filed on behalf of Joseph Paul Franklin and other death-row inmates endures.
A Missouri execution protocol allows only for use of pentobarbital in executions, but the sedative midazolam also was part of the process in the last nine executions. The drug has raised concerns in botched executions in other states.
Some of the most active death penalty states — including Texas, Florida and Missouri — have been the subject of similar lawsuits from virtually every death row inmate facing imminent execution over the past several months, but courts have rarely stepped in.
The attorney for condemned Missouri inmate Russell Bucklew is seeking permission to video-record the execution, citing concerns that Bucklew could suffer during the process.
Prison officials have offered little evidence to support their claim that pharmacies that supply the state with execution drugs would be in danger of violence if their identities were made public.
Last month, the Supreme Court rejected similar arguments from a Missouri inmate's attorneys who challenged the secrecy surrounding where that state obtained its execution drugs, and the condemned prisoner was put to death.
Law students with the Missouri Capital-Sentencing Research Program will review the 72 executions carried out by the state since 1989 as well as the death sentences handed down to 42 additional inmates.
The measure would require the state Corrections Department to submit a formal outline of an execution procedure to a legislative panel.
Complications with obtaining execution drugs stem back to European legislative movement against the death penalty. The dilemma grabbed attention this week when a pharmacy agreed to refrain from supplying an execution drug to Missouri for a lethal injection.
In a lawsuit, Michael Taylor, a death row inmate, questioned whether the Tulsa pharmacy could legally produce and deliver compounded pentobarbital for use of lethal injections.
To some elected officials, the drug shortages and recent legal challenges are beginning to make lethal injection seem too vulnerable to complications.
Missouri has added a compounding pharmacy to its execution team and plans to use pentobarbital in future lethal injections.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster in May asked the court to set the execution dates. That was the same month the Missouri Department of Corrections adopted a new execution protocol that uses a single drug, propofol.
Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said the sponsors of a similar bill filed in Missouri on Tuesday likely want to draw attention to the issue of capital punishment to "see if we in the United States and in the state of Missouri want to rethink the death penalty."
Martin Link, convicted in the kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Elissa Self-Braun, died by injection at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday.