US state readies for 4th execution in 4 months

2014-02-26 08:05
Convicted killer Michael Anthony Taylor of Kansas City who is scheduled to be put to death in Missouri. (File, AP)

Convicted killer Michael Anthony Taylor of Kansas City who is scheduled to be put to death in Missouri. (File, AP)

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St Louis  - A man convicted of abducting, raping and killing a Kansas City teenager in 1989 will be executed using a lethal drug provided by a new supplier if last-minute appeals on Tuesday don't stay Missouri's fourth execution in as many months.

Michael Taylor of Kansas City was scheduled for lethal injection at 12:01 (0601 GMT) on Wednesday. An appeal was pending before the US Supreme Court late on Tuesday night, but the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals denied Taylor's request for a rehearing and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon denied a clemency request.

Taylor's attorneys have questioned Missouri's use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide the pentobarbital for his execution.

They have also raised concerns that the state executes men before appeals are complete, and claim Taylor's original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty to lessen her own workload.

After years of using a three-drug execution method, Missouri switched to pentobarbital as a single fatal drug late last year. State officials say there were no outward signs of distress in three recent executions that all relied on a single dose of pentobarbital.

‘Track record’

Last week, the Oklahoma-based Apothecary Shoppe agreed that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor's execution.

 Attorney General Chris Koster's office announced in a court filing on 19 February that a new provider had been found, but has refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state's execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

Taylor's attorneys say use of the drug without naming the compounding pharmacy could cause the inmate pain and suffering because no one can check if the operation is legitimate and has not been accused of any violations.

"We have no idea about the track record of this pharmacy," Taylor's attorney, John Simon, said.

Taylor, aged 47, and Roderick Nunley were convicted of abducting, raping and killing the 15-year-old girl in Kansas City in 1989.

Ann Harrison was waiting for the school bus on the morning of 22 March 1989, when Nunley and Taylor, then in their early 20s, drove past in a car they had stolen after a night while binging on crack cocaine.

One of the men jumped out of the car and grabbed Ann, forcing her into the vehicle. Both have claimed the other did it.

The men drove to the home of Nunley's mother. Ann was forced into the basement and raped - DNA testing linked Taylor.

Afraid she would be able to identify them, the men used kitchen knives to stab the girl repeatedly, even as Ann begged for her life and offered money if they would let her live. She died about 30 minutes later.

Taylor and Nunley put her in the trunk of the stolen car, abandoned the car in a neighbourhood then walked away.

The body was found three days later. A $10 000 reward led to a tip, and Taylor and Nunley were both arrested. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to death in 1991. After their sentences were overturned, they were again sentenced to death in 1994.

Missouri could be on pace for a record number of executions in 2014. Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court set a 26 March execution date for Jeffrey Ferguson, convicted of abducting, raping and killing a 17-year-old girl in St Charles 25 years ago.

Several other inmates on death row have also exhausted all but last-minute court appeals and could soon face execution.

- AP
Read more on:    us  |  death penalty
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