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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court in 2002 barred the execution of mentally disabled inmates.

But until now, the court has left it up to the states to determine who is mentally disabled.

A new case is testing whether states can rely solely on the result of an intelligence test to conclude a death row inmate isn't mentally disabled — and therefore eligible to be executed — despite other evidence of mental deficits.

In arguments Monday, a Florida inmate is challenging that state's use of a rigid IQ cutoff to determine mental disability.

Florida is among the few states that use a threshold score of 70, as measured by IQ tests, to conclude an inmate is not mentally disabled, even if other evidence indicates he is.

Published in National News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Attorneys for Missouri death row inmate Michael Taylor continue the effort to spare his life, even as a federal judge has turned down some of his requests for a stay of execution.
 
U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips on Monday refused to halt the execution based on separate claims that Missouri's one-drug execution method could cause a painful death, and that the state in three recent executions put inmates to death while court cases were still pending. Taylor's attorney, John Simon, appealed to a federal appeals court.
 
Phillips is still considering another stay request, a claim that Taylor had an ineffective attorney at his original trial.
 
Taylor faces execution at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for abducting, raping and killing a 15-year-old Kansas City girl in 1989.
 
Published in Local News
Wednesday, 12 February 2014 12:38

Missouri death row inmate suing Oklahoma pharmacy

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A Missouri inmate scheduled for execution this month is asking a federal judge to bar a Tulsa compounding pharmacy from providing the drug to be used in his lethal injection.
 
Michael Taylor's lawsuit alleges that the Missouri Department of Corrections contracted with The Apothecary Shoppe to provide compounded pentobarbital for his Feb. 26 execution.
 
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Tulsa federal court, alleges the drug could cause "an unnecessarily long and inhumane execution" for Taylor, who was sentenced to die for the 1989 rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old girl.
 
A pharmacy spokeswoman did not immediately return a call seeking comment Wednesday. In a statement last month, The Apothecary Shoppe would neither confirm nor deny that it provided pentobarbital for a Missouri execution held Jan. 29.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - An attorney for a Missouri death row inmate is asking the state Supreme Court to overturn his conviction because prosecutors failed to disclose evidence that he was beaten by police before confessing.
   The attorney for Reginald Clemons on Tuesday urged the high court to use the findings of a specially appointed judge to set aside Clemons' conviction for the 1991 deaths of sisters Julie and Robin Kerry.  Prosecutors say the sisters were shoved off the Chain of Rocks Bridge into the Mississippi River in St. Louis after being raped.
   Clemons was one of four people who were convicted or pleaded guilty in the case.
 
   Special Judge Michael Manners concluded last year that prosecutors suppressed evidence that police may have beaten Clemons while questioning him.
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - With convicted killer Herbert Smulls' execution just hours away, his lawyer says she's used open records requests and publicly available documents to determine the name of the compounding pharmacy she believes manufactures Missouri's lethal injection drug.
 
Smulls is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The state plans to use pentobarbital, but has refused to say where the drug is made. Attorney Cheryl Pilate has said that makes it impossible for Smulls' advocates to know whether it could cause pain and suffering.
 
Pilate told The Associated Press on Tuesday that her research indicates the drug is made by The Apothecary Shoppe, based in Tulsa, Okla. She says an Oklahoma City-based lab tested the drug.
 
Messages seeking comment from both companies, and the Missouri Department of Corrections, were not immediately returned.
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Attorneys for condemned inmate Herbert Smulls are pressing on with concerns about Missouri's execution drug, even as the state prepares for its third execution since November.
 
Smulls is scheduled to die by injection one minute after midnight Wednesday for killing St. Louis County jeweler Stephen Honickman in 1991. On Sunday, attorneys for Smulls filed a motion with U.S. District Court. It alleges that the state's refusal to name the compounding pharmacy that makes Missouri's execution drug prohibits them from proving that the execution method could cause pain and suffering for the inmate.
 
His attorneys have also asked for clemency from Gov. Jay Nixon.
 
St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch says Smulls callously planned the killing, and deserves to be executed for the crime.
Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri death-row inmate scheduled for execution this month says the state prison system is improperly storing expired doses of a new lethal injection drug provided by an Oklahoma pharmacy that's not licensed to do business in the neighboring state.

Attorneys for Herbert Smulls filed a complaint with the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy on Friday. They want the board to recall an "expired, unsafe" batch of the sedative pentobarbital provided to Missouri by an unidentified Oklahoma compounding pharmacy. The complaint says the pharmacy gave erroneous instructions to store the drug at room temperature.

Missouri switched to its one-drug execution method late last year and has since killed two inmates. The complaint includes Missouri state records showing the pentobarbital given to both inmates had expired eight to 10 days earlier.

Published in Local News
Saturday, 09 November 2013 09:15

New execution date set for Missouri inmate

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The execution of convicted killer Allen Nicklasson, postponed in the debate over Missouri's choice of execution drug, has been rescheduled for December 11th.

The Missouri Supreme Court set the new date on Friday.

Nicklasson was convicted of the 1994 killing of Excelsior Springs, Missouri businessman Richard Drummond, who stopped to help when a car used by Nicklasson and two others broke down on Interstate 70. Another man in the car, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.

Nicklasson was first set to be executed Oct. 23, when Missouri planned to use the anesthetic propofol for the first time. The plan drew concerns because most propofol is made in Europe, and the European Union threatened to limit export if it was used in an execution.

Governor Jay Nixon stopped the execution.

Published in Local News
Wednesday, 09 October 2013 16:24

Death row inmate asks for stay of execution

ST. LOUIS (AP) - An attorney for condemned killer Allen Nicklasson is asking the Missouri Supreme Court for a stay of execution, citing concerns about Missouri's planned use of the anesthetic propofol for the first time as a lethal injection drug.

Attorney Jennifer Herndon filed the motion on Wednesday. It wasn't clear when the court would issue a ruling.

The Missouri Department of Corrections has expressed confidence in propofol as an execution drug, but Herndon raised concerns that it could cause Nicklasson to suffer.

Nicklasson was convicted of the 1994 killing of Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond, who stopped to help when a car used by Nicklasson and two others broke down on Interstate 70. Another man in the car, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.

Published in Local News

STARKE, Fla. (AP) - The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for a Florida inmate who orchestrated the 1987 ambush murder of a prison guard, then published three books and maintained a blog while on death row.

 

   William Van Poyck (pronounced poyk) is set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Florida State Prison for the murder of prison guard Fred Griffis. His case garnered international attention because Van Poyck went on to write books.

 

   The 58-year-old Van Poyck declined a final meal and visited Wednesday with his sister, four friends and a spiritual adviser.

 

   Van Poyck and Frank Valdes ambushed a prison van outside a West Palm Beach doctor's office in a failed attempt to free their friend, James O'Brien. Griffis was fatally shot.

 
Published in National News
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