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Mo. Supreme Court upholds lethal injection protocols

The Missouri Supreme Court
The Missouri Supreme Court

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – The Missouri Supreme Court has turned back a challenge to the way the state adopted its procedures for executing death row inmates.

Seventeen condemned prisoners had challenged the state's protocol for carrying out executions. They had claimed that since the Department of Corrections had not gone through legislative formalities to adopt lethal injection, it could not be used to put them to death.

Kansas City attorney Joe Luby represented the inmates.

"The theory of the lawsuit was that they were obligated to do this when they were creating a method explaining how it is that Missouri will execute prisoners in the people's name," Luby said.

But in a 4-3 decision, the state's highest court upheld a lower court ruling that execution procedures are exempted from having to be adopted as formal rules.

Attorney General Chris Koster is pleased with the ruling.

"This really, at this point, is the final roadblock that has been removed and taken away, and so now the Attorney General's office, in conjunction with the Supreme Court, will begin to move the [execution] process forward again," Koster said.

Koster indicates that any one of the 17 plaintiffs could be the next inmate to face execution.

The last death row inmate executed in Missouri was Marlin Gray. He was put to death in October 2005 for the rape, robbery, and murder of two sisters, Julie and Robin Kerry, at the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis.