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Bucklew Execution Challenged In Court

Missouri Department of Corrections

  Missouri’s next scheduled execution is being challenged in court.


Russell Bucklew is scheduled to be executed next Wednesday for the 1997 murder of Michael Sanders in  Cape Girardeau. Then-prosecutor, Morley Swingle once said Bucklew was the most evil person he ever prosecuted.


Bucklew has a severe and rare medical condition, cavernous hemangioma, that produces large tumors in his nose, throat and airways. The condition also leaves his blood vessels at risk of rupturing easily.


Last week, Bucklew’s attorney filed a complaint stating that if given the lethal injection, Bucklew’s death would be a “prolonged and excruciating death” that would violate his 8th amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment.


“There are many aspects of the lethal injection protocol that are likely to cause a massive hemorrhage with coughing, choking, obstruction of his airways, suffocation,” Pilate said. “There are many, many horrible possibilities.”


His condition is so severe, Pilate said, that he can’t even lie flat on his back. Medical experts who have examined the case believe that Bucklew would bleed from his facial orifices. Pilate said Bucklew’s vascular formation could also be problematic.


“There is a very significant possibility because of the vascular formation that the drug will not circulate properly in his system thus leading to  prolonged and excruciating execution,” Pilate said.


Pilate argues the execution could actually fail and said lethal injection is not a one size fits all method.


“It’s very possible that we could have a repeat of what happened in Oklahoma,” Pilate said.

Bailey McCormick was an intern reporter for KRCU in 2014.