A man on death row in Missouri, who has already had his life spared from execution once before, is again asking for another reprieve, claiming the lethal injection will cause a gruesome and painful death because blood-filled tumors in his head might burst.
Russell Bucklew is scheduled to be executed tonight, for the second time, after he was granted a last-minute stay of execution less than an hour bef0re he was due to die by lethal injection in May of 2014.
Want to know exactly how a lethal injection works? It actually involves three drugs and two injections. To learn what each one does and how long it takes a death row inmate to die, watch the video below:
The US Supreme Court stopped Bucklew’s previously scheduled execution because of concerns over violating his constitutional right to an execution without cruel or unusual punishment.
Bucklew suffers from a rare medical condition called cavernous hemangioma. This causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, vein problems, and blood-filled tumors to grow in his head, throat, and on his lip.
Bucklew’s attorney, Cheryl Pilate, is once again asking for an intervention from the Supreme Court. She claims Bucklew’s condition has gotten worse and that his tumors will likely rupture and bleed during the lethal injection.
Bucklew’s tumor on his lip is now the size of a grape, and it’s likely the ones in his head have been growing as well. Pilate believes this will prevent Bucklew from having a relatively painless execution, stating that he will “choke and cough on his own blood during the lethal injection process.”
“Mr. Bucklew’s rare and severe condition creates a very substantial risk of a gruesome execution, with choking and gagging on blood and the infliction of excruciating pain,” she said.
Bucklew’s condition also means that the lethal dose of pentobarbital couldn’t be administered in the usual way due to his weakened veins. His appeals have suggested using lethal gas, which Missouri law still allows but the state has not maintained or used a gas chamber since 1965.
Bucklew is on death row for killing his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend and going on a violent rampage. Stephanie Ray ended her relationship with Bucklew in 1996, claiming he had slashed her face with a knife and threatened to kill her, so she took her children and fled.
Bucklew then began stalking Ray. He discovered she was staying with Michael Sanders, a new boyfriend. Bucklew then stole a car, firearms, handcuffs, and duct tape, and broke into Sanders’s home.
Bucklew shot and killed Sanders, and when Sanders’s six-year-old son came out of hiding, he shot at him as well but missed. He then handcuffed Ray, dragged her to his car and raped her.
Police were called and Bucklew was arrested, but not without a gunfight, which wounded an officer. Once in jail, Bucklew managed to escape and was found at the home of Ray’s mother, where he attacked her with a hammer before he was finally captured for the second time.
Civil rights organizations have lobbied that Bucklew should be allowed to serve his sentence out behind bars, claiming that executing him “would be egregious, torturous, and in violation of the US and international law prohibiting torture, cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.”
As of writing this article, Bucklew is still scheduled to receive a lethal injection later tonight.