By a 2-1 vote, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel Monday granted the stay based on Nicklasson's claim that his attorney at trial and sentencing was ineffective, the Kansas City Star reported. However, the state was expected to ask the full court to overturn that stay.
If executed, Nicklasson will be the second person put to death in the "Good Samaritan" killing. The state executed co-defendant Dennis Skillicorn in 2009.
Nicklasson and Skillicorn were convicted of killing Richard Drummond, 47, along a Missouri road in 1994 when Drummond spotted a car broken down along a road and stopped to help, unaware that Nicklasson, Skillicorn and teen accomplice Tim DeGraffenreid had been on a drug-buying trip and broken into a nearby home, the Star said. DeGraffenreid is serving a life sentence.
Drummond offered the three a ride to a pay phone, but when the three got into his car, Nicklasson pointed a gun at Drummond and told him to drive. Eventually, Nicklasson forced Drummond to walk to a nearby stand of trees and shot him. After leaving DeGraffenreid in the Kansas City area, Nicklasson and Skillicorn fled the state.
While traveling through Arizona, their car got stuck in soft sand. They walked to a nearby home, where they shot and killed a couple. Nicklasson and Skillicorn eventually were arrested in California.