Supreme Court Justice Halts Missouri Execution

By CNN

Published 05/21 2014 05:52AM

Updated 05/22 2014 07:43AM

(BONNE TERRE, Mo.) A rare birth defect has kept a Missouri man from being put to death earlier this morning.

The execution of Russell Bucklew, 46, had been scheduled for just after MIDNIGHT.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito granted a stay of execution for the convicted killer.

Bucklew's lawyers argued that a birth defect, cavernous hemangioma, could have caused a "prolonged and excruciating execution."

The stay of execution came after Missouri Governor Jay Nixon had denied a petition for clemency for what he called the heinous nature Bucklew's crimes.

In 1997, Bucklew was convicted of raping his ex-girlfriend, killing a man he believed to be her new boyfriend and shooting a gun at that man's six year old son.

Bucklew's killing spree ended with a shootout with the Missouri State Highway Patrol that left a trooper wounded.

On Monday, another judge had denied a request to stay the execution and a request to have the execution videotaped.

Bucklew's execution would have been the first since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month and Missouri's seventh execution since last November.

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