St. Louis, MO, United States (4E) – The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily stopped the Wednesday execution of a Missouri inmate in response to lawyers’ petition to know the pharmacy supplying the drug for use in the lethal injection and the integrity of the poison.
Justice Samuel Alito ordered the stay of execution of Herbert Smulls, 56, on Tuesday but will rule on the petitions of his lawyers Wednesday. Smulls’ lawyers claim the drugs to be used for the execution are expired and have been improperly stored.
Smulls is scheduled to be executed just after midnight Wednesday morning at the Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Correctional Center at Bonne Terre, Missouri.
Governor Jay Nixon on Tuesday denied a clemency petition for Smulls, who was sentenced to death by lethal injection for killing a Chesterfield couple and robbing their St. Louis County jewelry store in July 1991. Nixon said Smulls’ death sentence was upheld by state and federal courts.
Smulls would be the third inmate to be executed in Missouri in three months. The pentobarbital to be used for his lethal injection was produced for the Missouri Department of Corrections by a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma. His lawyers asked a federal judge for a stay of the execution for 60 days so they can prove that the lethal injection would violate Smulls’ Fifth Amendment rights or protection from a painful death.
The lawyers argued that the sterility and source of the pentobarbital are questionable because the Oklahoma pharmacy supplying it is not licensed to do business in Missouri. They also raised concerns over the proper storage of the drug and the track record of the company that tested and signed off on the drug’s sterility.