Death Penalty

Missouri execution takes 10 minutes; four SCOTUS justices would have granted stay


A Missouri inmate was executed early Wednesday in a lethal injection procedure that took 10 minutes, a marked contrast to the nearly two-hour execution of an Arizona inmate last month.

Michael Worthington was executed for the 1995 rape and murder of a college student, the Associated Press reports. He was the seventh Missouri inmate executed this year.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to issue a stay in a bid by Worthington’s lawyers to learn about the source of the drug that would be used in the execution. Four justices dissented from the stay refusal: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. There was no note of dissent when the Supreme Court refused to issue a stay in the Arizona execution last month.

In a switch made last year, Missouri executions use a single large dose of pentobarbital, a drug used in animal euthanasia. None of the Missouri inmates executed with the drug have shown signs of distress, AP says.

Recent executions didn’t go as smoothly in Arizona, Oklahoma and Ohio, which use the sedative midazolam as part of a multidrug lethal injection cocktail. The Arizona execution of Joseph Rudolph Wood took nearly two hours and he appeared to gasp for air during the procedure. In April, Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett died of an apparent heart attack after he kicked and grimaced, leading officials to halt his execution. And in January, an Ohio execution took 26 minutes.

The last time Missouri executed so many prisoners in a single year was in 2001, Time reports.

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