Missouri man on death row could suffer 'one of the most gruesome' executions in US history due to rare disease

Missouri man on death row could suffer 'one of the most gruesome' executions in US history due to rare disease
(Police Department)

Missouri Governor Mike Parson, on Tuesday, denied clemency to a 51-year-old death-row inmate whose death could be "one of the most gruesome" executions in the United States history. Russell Bucklew, who suffers from a rare blood vessel disorder called cavernous hemangioma, is set to be executed on October 1, at 6 pm (7 pm ET) by lethal injections. Bucklew was convicted in 1997 of first-degree murder, kidnapping, and first-degree burglary.

Bucklew's disease reportedly can cause tumors in the head, and regular bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, and ears. Reports state that an execution by lethal injection, which contains pentobarbital, could result in prolonged suffocation and excruciating pain for Bucklew.

Considering his condition, the inmate's attorneys had argued that his execution method should be reconsidered and he should be permitted to undergo death by legal gas instead. The Supreme Court, in April this year, had ruled against Bucklew's case in a 5-4 decision, giving the go-ahead for execution by lethal injection. Justice Neil Gorsuch earlier this year had said the Eighth Amendment "does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain" in carrying out executions. The Justice added that Buckew had not provided "any evidence" that the substitution of lethal gas would "significantly reduce his risk of pain," CNN reported.


However, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) criticized the SC ruling, saying that executing Bucklew would violate the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

"What makes (Bucklew's) execution different is that he has a medical condition that would make it one of the most gruesome in US history," the ACLU wrote, adding that Bucklew's tumors "will likely rupture during the lethal injection process, causing him to hemorrhage, choke, and suffocate in his own blood."

Bucklew previously, in 2014, had successfully argued in his favor with the Supreme Court granting him a stay of execution, pending appeals. 

Bucklew, in 1996, killed a man named Michael Sanders who was living with his former girlfriend Stephanie Pruitt. Reports state that Bucklew killed Sanders in front of Pruitt, her two daughters and Sanders' two sons. He then handcuffed and beat Pruitt, took her to a secluded area and raped her. He even fired a shot at a trooper who spotted his car in the secluded region, however, he missed.


Bucklew later escaped prison, hiding in Pruitt's mother's house. Reports state that he also struck the woman with a hammer.

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 Missouri man set to be executed tonight could suffer a 'gruesome' death because of his rare disease