MISSOURI (USA): HERBERT SMULLS EXECUTED
January 28, 2014: Missouri late on Wednesday executed Herbert Smulls after the U.S. Supreme Court denied last-minute appeals that in part challenged the drug used in the execution.
Herbert Smulls was pronounced dead at 10:20 p.m. local time at a state prison in Bonne Terre after receiving a lethal dose of pentobarbital.
Smulls, 56, was declared dead nine minutes after being injected with the drug. Smulls was convicted of shooting Stephen Honickman while robbing his jewelry store in July 1991. Honickman's wife Florence, who was also shot during the attack, sustained permanent injuries. Lawyers for Smulls had sought to block his execution on multiple grounds, arguing in part that the compound drug Missouri used to kill him might not be as pure and as potent as it should be, which could cause undue suffering. Missouri and several other states have turned to compounding pharmacies, which are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to prepare drugs for executions after an increasing number of pharmaceutical manufacturers objected to their drugs being used in capital punishment. In the Smulls case, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found on Friday that his lawyers did not propose a feasible or more humane alternative than pentobarbital or showed that Missouri sought to cause him unnecessary pain by using the drug.
The Eighth Circuit had separately granted a stay until the U.S. Supreme Court decided whether to hear the case. The Supreme Court granted Smulls the temporary stay late Tuesday, hours before his execution was to be carried out, to consider his lawyer's arguments that prosecutors had improperly eliminated a black woman as a possible juror, leaving him with an all-white jury at trial.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Supreme Court vacated the temporary stay and denied the request for a stay or to hear the appeal on the jury selection issue.
Smulls becomes the 1st inmate to be put to death this year in Missouri, the 71st overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1989, the 6th inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1365th overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977. (Sources: Reuters & Rick Halperin, 28/01/2014)