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Missouri executes inmate for 1997 murder

By
Danielle Haynes
Russell Bucklew received the death penalty for killing his ex-girlfriend's presumed new boyfriend in 1997. File Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Corrections
Russell Bucklew received the death penalty for killing his ex-girlfriend's presumed new boyfriend in 1997. File Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Corrections

Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Missouri executed a convicted murderer Tuesday evening for a 1997 slaying, his lawyers said.

Russell Bucklew, 51, died by lethal injection of pentobarbital after receiving a last meal of a gyro sandwich, a smoked brisket sandwich, french fries, soda and a banana split.

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His execution came hours after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson declined to grant the man clemency despite receiving multiple reprieves in recent years because of a rare illness his lawyers warned could cause him pain during lethal injection.

Bucklew's lawyers argued their client should be spared the death penalty because he had a rare condition, cavernous hemangioma, which causes weakened and malformed blood vessels and creates tumors in the nose and throat. Medical experts said lethal injection drugs could have caused blood-filled tumors in his head to burst, causing him to choke on his own blood during the execution.

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The American Civil Liberties Union warned Bucklew's medical condition could cause his execution to be "one of the most gruesome in U.S. history."

Defense lawyer Laurence Komp said he told Bucklew of Parson's decision not to give clemency.

"We conveyed the information and told him that we supported him," Komp told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "That was it. It's a hard thing when you strip away all hope."

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In April, the Supreme Court ruled against Bucklew's request that Missouri use lethal gas to execute him instead of lethal injection. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the Constitution "does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain" in executions.

"The people of Missouri, the surviving victims of Mr. Bucklew's crimes, and others like them deserve better," he continued.

Bucklew was convicted of murdering Michael Sanders, Bucklew's ex-girlfriend's presumed new boyfriend. Bucklew also kidnapped and raped his ex-girlfriend before getting into a gunfight with police.

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