The U.S. Supreme Court granted a reprieve to a Missouri death row inmate scheduled to die Tuesday because he has a rare illness that would have likely made the execution particularly gruesome.
Russell Bucklew, 49, was sentenced to death in 1996 after he raped and beat his ex-girlfriend with a hammer and murdered her new boyfriend. He was scheduled to receive a lethal injection Tuesday, but his attorneys petitioned the court on grounds that his medical condition, cavernous hemangioma, would burst blood-filled tumors on his head and cause him to choke on his own blood during the execution.
The Supreme Court's decision was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch voting to let Bucklew be executed.
Bucklew's attorney, Cheryl Pilate, told the Kansas City Star that the Supreme Court will hear arguments before his death warrant expires.
"We are thrilled and relieved and look forward to continuing to work with Rusty," Pilate said.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley disagrees that Bucklew's medical condition would cause a blood-filled scene because the inmate's tumors shrunk 10 percent between 2010 and 2016.
This is the second time Bucklew received a lat-minute reprieve.
Bucklew's attorneys have previously argued that if he must be executed, to let it be in a gas chamber or by firing range.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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