Missouri Execution in Limbo amid Court Review

Nov 4, 2015

Credit California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

The execution of a Missouri man remains in limbo following the U.S. Supreme Court's last-minute decision to delay the lethal injection.

Ernest Lee Johnson was scheduled to die at 6 p.m. Tuesday. He was convicted of fatally beating three people a claw hammer during a robbery in 1994.

But Tuesday evening, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court was asked whether it properly dismissed a complaint alleging that execution drugs could trigger painful seizures because Johnson still has part of a benign brain tumor.

The court had taken no action by mid-morning on Wednesday. The state is facing a 6 p.m. deadline, otherwise it will have to reschedule the execution.

Johnson's attorney says it appeared unlikely the dispute would be settled by then.