Next step unclear after Missouri execution halted

May 22, 2014

Credit Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

What happens now to a Missouri inmate after a rare last-minute stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court will be up to other judges.

The Supreme Court did not specify its reasons in directing a lower court to take another look at the case, leaving open the question of whether the ruling shows a growing weariness of lethal injection in general or trepidation specifically about Russell Bucklew's medical condition, which affects his veins. It would have been the first execution since a botched one last month in Oklahoma.

The appeals court could review briefs, hold a hearing, or send the case down to the district court. Because Bucklew's death warrant expired, a new date would have to be set. Missouri says that won't happen until the appeals process ends.