BONNE TERRE, MO - The State of Missouri executed death row inmate Russell Bucklew on Tuesday. He was pronounced dead at 6:23p.m. An effort to spare Bucklew’s life was centered around a rare medical condition. The ACLU and other organizations argued that Bucklew’s death would amount to torture. Bucklew’s attorneys argued he would choke on his own blood because of his medical condition.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that the execution could go forward. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson’s office turned down a request for clemency on Tuesday. An Associated Press reporter witnessed the execution and reported Bucklew showed no signs of outward distress.
Bucklew was convicted of the murder, Michael Sanders. Authorities said he shot and killed Sanders in 1996 because he Sanders was with Bucklew’s former lover. Authorities said Bucklew kidnapped and raped Stephanie Ray Pruitt and eventually got into a shootout with the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Morley Swingle prosecuted Bucklew in Cape Girardeau County. Swingle said Pruitt wanted her face to be the last face Bucklew saw before he was executed but she was murdered several years ago. Swingle felt obligated to represent Pruitt at Bucklew’s execution.
“He was given a shot and he fell asleep and that peaceful death was a stark contrast to the brutal violent death he inflicted on Michael Sanders where he shot Michael Sanders 4 times in front of and terrorized Stephanie Pruitt and 4 little children,” said former Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle. “He stood over Michael Sanders when Michael Sanders was begging for his life. You couldn’t have a bigger contrast between the brutal murder he inflicted on his victim and the peaceful death that he went through.”