US death row man executed despite plea

A US death row prisoner was executed yesterday – despite a last-minute plea that an execution drug bought from a pharmacy could cause inhuman suffering.

Michael Taylor, 47, was pronounced dead shortly after midnight local time at the Missouri state prison in Bonne Terre.

Federal courts and the state governor had refused last-minute appeals from his lawyers concerning the execution drug.

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Taylor offered no final statement. He mouthed silent words to his parents, two clergymen and other relatives who witnessed his death. As the process began, he took two deep breaths before closing his eyes for the last time. There were no obvious signs of distress.

His death was the state’s fourth execution by lethal injection in as many months.

Taylor was sentenced to death for abducting, raping and killing a Kansas City teenager as she waited for her school bus in 1989.

His victim, 15-year-old Ann Harrison, was in her driveway - carrying her school books, flute and purse - when she was abducted by Taylor and Roderick Nunley. The men pulled her into their car, took her to a home, then raped and fatally stabbed the teenager as she pleaded for her life.

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Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.

Ann’s father and two of her uncles witnessed Taylor’s execution. They declined to make a public statement.

In their appeals, Taylor’s lawyers questioned Missouri’s use of an unnamed pharmacy to provide the execution drug, pentobarbital.

They also cited concerns about the state executing inmates before appeals were complete and argued that Taylor’s original trial lawyer was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty.

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After using a three-drug execution method for years, Missouri switched late last year to pentobarbital. The same drug was used in three previous Missouri executions, and state officials said none of the inmates showed outward signs of distress.

But lawyers for Taylor said using a drug from a compounding pharmacy, which unlike large pharmaceutical companies, is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration, runs the risk of causing pain and suffering during the execution process.

Oklahoma-based compounding pharmacy Apothecary Shoppe agreed last week that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor’s execution, which left Missouri to find a new supplier.

Attorney general Chris Koster’s office disclosed that a new provider had been found, but refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state’s execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

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Taylor’s lawyers said use of the drug without naming the compounding pharmacy could cause the inmate pain and suffering because no one could check if the operation was legitimate and had not been accused of any violations.


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