The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday set a new execution date for a man spared three years ago by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Russell Bucklew is scheduled to be put to death on March 20, according to Tuesday’s order.
Bucklew, now 49, was sentenced to death for the 1996 killing of a man in southeast Missouri.
In 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court halted Bucklew’s execution so he could pursue legal action concerning a rare medical condition that his attorneys say creates a “significant risk” that lethal drugs injected into his body would not circulate properly.
That would constitute an unconstitutional infliction of cruel and unusual punishment, his attorneys say.
According to court documents, Bucklew suffers from cavernous hemangioma, described as “a rare, dangerous and sometimes debilitating congenital condition that causes clumps of malformed blood vessels to grow in his head, neck and face.”
“This will likely prolong the execution and cause Mr. Bucklew to suffer excruciating pain,” according to the documents filed on his behalf. “Additionally, the weak, malformed veins in Mr. Bucklew’s head could rupture, leading to bleeding, choking or severely compromising his airway.”
Attorneys for Bucklew said in a written statement Tuesday that they will also seek a stay of execution for the new date.
“We believe that the setting of the date at this time is premature,” the statement read. “Mr. Bucklew has a meritorious appeal presently pending in the Eighth Circuit (U.S. Court of Appeals) that challenges Missouri’s execution protocol as applied to Mr. Bucklew, who suffers from a unique and very severe medical condition.”