US Supreme Court Justice Alito halts Missouri execution for inmate's health condition
Samuel Alito (screen capture)

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. stayed the execution of a Missouri inmate late Tuesday night after the lethal injection death of Russell Bucklew had been scheduled and unscheduled by legal wrangling earlier in the day.

Bucklew's execution was scheduled for just after midnight on Wednesday morning for a 1996 double murder, which included raping one of the victims. Bucklew, however suffers from a rare medical condition, cavernous hemangioma, which results in tumors and bleeding on his face and neck. His lawyers had sought a stay of execution with a federal appeals court because, they argued, the process would cause "suffering adverse events during the execution, including hemorrhaging, suffocating, and experiencing excruciating pain."

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to stay the execution while more information could be gathered about his condition. But after Missouri officials appealed that decision, the full court of appeals lifted the stay.

Then Alito stepped in. The justice gave no reason, only issued this order: "It is ordered that execution of the sentence of death is hereby stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the court."