Missouri death row inmate wants his execution videotaped

A convicted murderer is scheduled to be executed Wednesday in Missouri despite a stay requested by his lawyers that cited a rare health condition which could cause extreme pain and suffocation during lethal injection. (Reuters)

Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew, who turned 46 on Friday, suffers from a congenital condition that has weakened and malformed his blood vessels.

He has tumors growing in his nose and throat, he bleeds from his eyes and ears, and he has constant pain in his face that requires pain medicine every few hours.

His condition — and the botched Oklahoma execution that left Clayton Lockett writhing on the gurney before he died of an apparent heart attack last month — worries him. He told the Associated Press he doesn’t know what will happen after his lethal injection Wednesday. He will be the first to be executed in the United States since Lockett.

So Bucklew is asking a federal court to allow the videotaping of his death — to record any evidence of constitutional violations, namely cruel and unusual punishment.

The AP, Guardian and three other news organizations filed a lawsuit in a Missouri court Thursday to try and force the Missouri Department of Corrections to release more information about where the state is getting the drugs used for lethal injections. A day later, a lawyer filed a motion on behalf of Bucklew.

Reuters reported:

A videotape would preserve evidence if he survives and wants to oppose another execution or is injured and wants to file a claim, the motion states. It further states that if the inmate dies but suffers “prolonged and excruciating execution or chokes and suffocates to death,” the video would be evidence for a claim by his estate. … A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections did not immediately return a call for comment.

It wouldn’t be the first filmed execution. A federal judge in California authorized taping an inmate’s gas chamber death in 1992, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. The video was later destroyed.

Bucklew is scheduled to be executed for shooting a man, after which he raped, beat and abducted an ex-girlfriend.

The Bucklew motion states that a videorecording would be important if this week’s schedule execution goes awry.

Lindsey Bever is a national news reporter for The Washington Post. She writes for the Morning Mix news blog. Tweet her: @lindseybever
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