Missouri carries out its sixth execution of the year


A 2007 photo of John Middleton. (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP)

Update – 8:28 p.m.:

John Middleton was executed on Wednesday night, according to a statement issued by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Middleton is the sixth person executed by Missouri this year.

Earlier:

Missouri plans to execute convicted murderer John Middleton on Wednesday night. Middleton’s execution was delayed from early Wednesday morning after a judge intervened, but barring any additional court action, he could be executed on Wednesday after 6 p.m.

He was convicted of murdering three people in 1995 because Middleton, a methamphetamine dealer, feared they were going to talk to police. His attorneys have argued that he is innocent, citing a new witness who said two other men committed the murders, but the state has dismissed this argument.

Middleton was scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, but a federal judge halted the procedure due to Middleton’s mental state. An appeals court reversed this and ruled that the stay must be lifted at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

On Wednesday evening, the Missouri Supreme Court denied a stay of execution. It is unclear if the U.S. Supreme Court or Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) will halt the execution.

If Middleton is executed, he would be the 25th person executed in the U.S. this year. In addition, he would be the sixth inmate killed by Missouri this year. Only Florida and Texas — which have both executed seven people — have carried out more executions in 2014.

Missouri executed John Winfield last month, one of three executions carried out in a single 24-hour period. A federal judge had agreed to stay that execution, but a court vacated the stay. The Supreme Court denied his appeals and Nixon denied his request for clemency. That came a month after Missouri nearly executed Russell Bucklew, who was almost killed by lethal injection before the Supreme Court halted it owing to Bucklew’s health.

RELATED:

Missouri’s attorney general wants the state to produce its own lethal injection drugs.

Federal judge says California’s death penalty system is “unconstitutional”

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He anchors Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.
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Mark Berman | July 16