A federal judge on Monday denied a stay of execution for a Missouri murderer who argued that the state is violating his rights with a last-minute, secrecy-shrouded switch of pharmacies for the lethal injection.
Lawyers for Michael Taylor are appealing to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals as the clock ticks down on Wednesday's scheduled execution.
Taylor's case is being closely watched because his appeal centers on Missouri's use of compounding pharmacies to make the killer dose of pentobarbital.
One pharmacy agreed not to supply the drug after Taylor sued them. The state said it has contracted with another pharmacy but has not identified it.
Death-penalty states have turned to specialty pharmacies because many drug companies refuse to sell their wares for executions.
Defense lawyers say the compounders aren't properly regulated and could mix a batch of drugs that would cause an excruciating death, in violation of the constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Taylor is on death row for abducting, raping and stabbing to death a 15-year-old girl in 1989.
In a phone interview with Reuters before his stay was denied, he said he was scared by reports that an Ohio inmate took 25 minutes to die and gasped for breath during a recent execution, albeit with a different drug.
He also expressed remorse for the killing of Ann Harrison.
"I am totally not the same person I was," he said. "It's hard to understand that life without parole is not good enough."
Missouri Correctional Office via AP file
Michael Taylor is scheduled to be executed Wednesday in Missouri.
First published February 24 2014, 9:15 AM
Tracy Connor is a senior writer for NBC News. She started this role in December, 2012. Connor is responsible for reporting and writing breaking news, features and enterprise stories for NBCNews.com. Connor joined NBC News from the New York Daily News, where she was a senior writer covering a broad range of news and supervising the health and immigration beats. Prior to that she was an assistant city editor who oversaw breaking news and the courts and entertainment beats.
Earlier, Connor was a staff writer at the New York Post, United Press International and Brooklyn Paper Publications.
Connor has won numerous awards from journalism organizations including the Deadline Club and the New York Press Club.
She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.