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Condemned Kansas City killer challenges Missouri’s new lethal drug source

Updated: 2014-02-21T02:15:18Z

By TONY RIZZO

The Kansas City Star

Attorneys for a condemned Kansas City killer on Thursday renewed their request for a stay of execution the day after the state revealed a new source of the lethal injection chemical.

Michael Taylor is scheduled to be put to death early Wednesday for the 1989 kidnapping, rape and killing of 15-year-old Ann Harrison of Kansas City.

The state revealed in federal court documents filed late Wednesday afternoon that it has arranged with an unnamed pharmacy to supply pentobarbital for Taylor’s execution. Another pharmacy recently agreed not to supply the drug.

Taylor’s lawyers say that leaves him little time to mount a meaningful legal challenge to determine if the drugs are manufactured properly and will work as intended. They contend that if the chemical is impure or not potent, it could cause pain and suffering that would violate Taylor’s constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

Because the state has designated the pharmacy as part of its execution team, its identify is kept confidential.

“Whether one supports or opposes capital punishment, there is something sordid about rushing to execute a person less than a week after switching the supplier of the lethal drug — especially where, as here, the drug is effectively unregulated and experimental and has already provided cause for alarm,” Taylor’s lawyers said in court documents filed Thursday.

That alarm they mention stems from a recent execution in Oklahoma using pentobarbital during which the inmate said, “I feel my whole body burning,” within seconds of being injected.

Those drugs could be from the pharmacy Missouri now has employed, Taylor’s lawyers said.

They argued that it is reasonable to stay the execution so Taylor has the chance to learn more about the drug source and mount a legal challenge. They said his “very life” is at stake.

Also Thursday, Taylor’s lawyers filed a request to reopen a previously closed federal case involving allegations stemming from his original guilty plea and sentencing. They contend that Taylor received ineffective assistance from his lawyers at the time of his guilty plea and sentencing, as well as during his initial appeal. A federal judge previously dismissed that case in 2000.

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.

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