A Missouri execution has been delayed until at least midday Wednesday after a federal judge granted a last-minute stay. John Middleton was scheduled to die one minute after midnight Wednesday for killing three people in rural northern Missouri in 1995. Less than two hours before the execution, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry granted a stay, ruling that there was enough evidence of mental illness that a hearing should be held. Courts have established that executing the mentally ill is unconstitutional.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court adjourned for the night without a ruling. Earlier Tuesday, that appeals court panel had overturned another stay issued by Perry. The state could still execute Middleton at any time Wednesday if the stay is lifted. Middleton, 54, would be the sixth man put to death in Missouri this year — only Florida and Texas have performed more executions in 2014 with seven each.
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