Date set for hearing on halted Bucklew execution

Published: May. 20, 2014 at 10:10 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 12, 2014 at 1:14 PM CDT
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A hearing has been set regarding the halted execution of Russell Bucklew.

According to the 8th District Court of Appeals, the hearing will be held at 9 a.m. September 9 in St. Louis and will feature oral arguments regarding the execution that was halted by a U.S. Supreme Court justice last month.

Each side will be given 30 minutes for oral arguments.

The case that put Bucklew on death row included a murder, kidnapping, chase, escape from jail, and many more twists and turns.

"In my closing arguments I called him a homicidal Energizer bunny," said former Cape County Prosecutor Morley Swingle. "If he wanted to kill you and he said he was coming after you there was no stopping him."

Swingle called Bucklew one of the most evil individuals he's ever met. Heartland News made several requests to interview Bucklew about those claims and his conviction. Each time Bucklew declined.

It all began in March of 1996 with the murder of Michael Sanders in Cape County.

Swingle said Bucklew armed himself with two guns and two knives and went to the home. According to Swingle, Bucklew knew his estranged girlfriend Stephanie Ray Pruitt was staying with Sanders. Pruitt had said she feared him because Bucklew had abused her. When Bucklew arrived, according to Swingle, he shot Sanders in front of Sanders' kids and also Pruitt's children.

From there, Swingle says Bucklew pistol whipped Pruitt, raped her, and started driving toward St. Louis while he played the Bon Jovi song "Blaze of Glory."

Eventually troopers caught up with him as he entered St. Louis. There was a shootout and Bucklew took a bullet to the head.

Even after the injury, Bucklew managed to break out of the jail in Cape in a garbage bag. He went on to hide in a pantry and attack Pruitt's mother and her mother's boyfriend with a hammer.

Eventually he ended up in the hands of authorities again, and sentenced to 95 years in prison, as well as the death penalty.

"Later he gave a video taped confession and admitted the whole thing," said Swingle.

Stephanie Ray Pruitt testified against Bucklew in court. Later, then known as Stephanie Shuffitt, she became the victim of a murder-suicide in Perry County in 2009.

"It always made me sad because she wanted to be there at the execution because she wanted to be the last thing he saw before he died," said Swingle. "She was proud of the fact she'd testified against him."

Meanwhile, Cape Girardeau County Sheriff John Jordan will serve as a State's Witness at the execution. He was also the sheriff in 1996.

"In my opinion he should have died a long time ago," said Sheriff Jordan. "In my opinion the world will be a safer place when he is no longer with us."

Captain David James with the Cape Girardeau County Sheriff's Department then and now also worked every aspect of the case.

"He had no regard for anyone's safety as well as his own," said Captain James. "We'll all be safer when he's gone."

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