U.S. Supreme Court grants stay of execution for Russell Bucklew

Bonne Terre prison (Source: Hank Cavagnaro, KFVS)
Bonne Terre prison (Source: Hank Cavagnaro, KFVS)
Bucklew in 2005 (Source: Missouri Department of Corrections)
Bucklew in 2005 (Source: Missouri Department of Corrections)
Russell Bucklew is on death row for a murder in Cape Girardeau County that dates back to the 1990's. (Source: Missouri Department of Corrections)
Russell Bucklew is on death row for a murder in Cape Girardeau County that dates back to the 1990's. (Source: Missouri Department of Corrections)
His execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 20. (Source: Missouri Department of Corrections)
His execution is scheduled for 6 p.m. on March 20. (Source: Missouri Department of Corrections)

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Russell Bucklew was scheduled to die by lethal injection on March 20 by 6 p.m., but the U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay of execution.

Bucklew's attorney has argued that his rare medical condition that weakens his blood vessels could cause him undue suffering.

He is on death row for killing a former girlfriend's boyfriend in Cape Girardeau County in 1996.

Bucklew was moments away from execution in May 2014 when the U.S. Supreme Court halted it amid concerns about Bucklew's medical condition.

Cassandra Stubbs, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Capital Punishment Project, had the following reaction:

"For the second time in four years, the Supreme Court has intervened to stop the unconstitutional and barbaric proposed execution by lethal injection of Russell Bucklew. While the Supreme Court's decision to stay the execution is a welcome one, it is an indictment of our legal system that Mr. Bucklew came this close to execution.  As a result of his unique medical condition, Mr. Bucklew could have choked on his own blood during the execution and experienced excruciating pain. Neither the constitution nor the bounds of human decency permit his execution.

Bucklew's appeals suggest if the execution is carried out, the state should use lethal gas instead of an injection. Missouri law still lists gas as an option, but the state no longer has a gas chamber and has not used the method since 1965.

Lt. Eric Friedrich, who worked the case in 1996, said they are ready to see justice served.

"You know I think about the pain that he inflicted you know on the Sanders family and the pain that he inflicted on Stephanie Pruitt and what her life was like thereafter, I think this chapter needs to close and I think it needs to happen tomorrow night," said Friedrich.

But, we could see a repeat of what happened 2014 in Bucklew's case.

Bucklew's attorney Cheryl Pilate told Heartland News they filed a petition and an application a or stay, both are being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court and they could make a decision at any time up until the execution.

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