Russell Bucklew, who was sentenced to death for killing the man he believed was his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend, suffers from a birth defect, which his legal team says he produces tumors and frequently bleeds from his nose, mouth, eyes and ears. Lawyer Cheryl Pilate obtained an affidavit from a medical expert that said Bucklew was likely to choke or suffocate during lethal injection.
Bucklew is scheduled to be put to death shortly after midnight Wednesday. By Tuesday afternoon, a federal appeals court had refused to stay the execution or to order the videotaping.
"If Missouri officials are confident enough to execute Russell Bucklew, they should be confident enough to videotape it. It is time to raise the curtain on lethal injections," Pilate said.
If the execution goes forward, Bucklew would be the first to be put to death since Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma. Lockett died of a heart attack 10 minutes after prison officials halted the execution because the lethal drugs were not reaching his veins.
Bucklew was convicted in 1997 for killing Michael Sanders and firing at Sanders' 6-year-old son and kidnapping and raping his former girlfriend, Stephanie Ray Pruitt. Before his arrest, Bucklew got involved in a shootout with police officers in which he and a state trooper were injured.
The drugs used for lethal injection have become a major avenue of appeal in death penalty cases. Last week, federal courts refused to overturn Texas' secrecy policy, but granted convicted killer Robert Campbell time to appeal because of evidence that authorities hid evidence of his intellectual disability.