Federal judge denies Missouri death row inmate's appeal over drug

Feb. 24, 2014 at 1:21 PM   |   Comments

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo., Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A federal judge Monday denied a stay of execution for a Missouri killer who argued the state violated his rights with a switch in the lethal injection cocktail.

Attorneys for convicted rapist and murderer Michael Taylor appealed the judge's denial to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported.

Taylor's execution is on track for Wednesday after the federal district judge denied the two petitions, pending the outcome of further appeals, the newspaper said.

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Phillips ruled Monday Taylor wasn't likely to successfully argue that the state's execution protocol put him at risk of experiencing a cruel and unusual punishment.

In his appeal, Taylor argued that several recent executions in which a compounded pentobarbital was used indicated he would experience "severe, unnecessary, lingering and ultimately inhumane pain."

Last week, Taylor successfully pressured a pharmacy in Oklahoma to stop selling Missouri the drug for executions. But the state later said it has a new supplier.

"Taylor has not set forth any binding legal authority to suggest that, even if there was a change to the protocol, death row inmates have a due process right to review an execution protocol or be notified of a change to it," Phillips wrote.

Taylor's lawyers also claimed Missouri officials violated the rights of death row inmates by executing them while appeals were pending. Missouri officials previously have said they have made sure that all legal hurdles were cleared before death sentences were carried out.

Phillips ruled Taylor took too long to make the claim and couldn't demonstrate the likelihood of a successful appeal because it was unclear whether Missouri violated inmates' due process rights in past cases.

Taylor was convicted in the kidnap, rape and murder of 15-year-old Ann Harrison in Kansas City in 1989.

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