May 20, 2014 / 11:24 PM / 4 years ago

U.S. appeals court halts execution of inmate with rare health defect

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A U.S. Appeals Court issued a stay on Tuesday halting the planned execution of a Missouri death row inmate, whose lawyers have said suffers from a rare health condition that could lead to pain and suffocation during a lethal injection.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit granted the stay to convicted rapist and murderer Russell Bucklew, 46, just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.

“Bucklew’s unrebutted medical evidence demonstrates the requisite sufficient likelihood of unnecessary pain and suffering beyond the constitutionally permissible amount inherent in all executions,” the court wrote.

Bucklew was convicted of the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders in southeast Missouri, and the kidnapping and rape of Stephanie Ray, an ex-girlfriend who had been seeing Sanders.

U.S. District Court Judge Beth Phillips had on Monday denied the stay and a request to have his execution videotaped, ruling there was insufficient evidence to suggest Bucklew would suffer severe and needless pain. But the Eighth Circuit disagreed.

Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Editing by David Bailey, Eric Walsh and Bernard Orr

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