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Missouri executes second inmate this year

Michael Taylor was put to death shortly after midnight Wednesday.
The death chamber at the Missouri Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo.
The death chamber at the Missouri Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Mo.

The state of Missouri executed Michael Taylor by lethal injection early Wednesday morning. It is the state’s second execution this year, and the ninth nationwide in 2014. He made no last statement.

Taylor had been trying to delay his execution in court, but he was denied a stay by the U.S. Supreme Court. Then Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri, rejected a request for clemency. Taylor’s lawyers had argued earlier this month that the state should not be allowed to put him to death because it could not guarantee the quality of the drugs that would be used.

According to a report by NBC News, a dissent from the 8th Circuit supported delaying the execution in order to investigate whether the drugs would cause terrible pain, which would violate constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.

"One must wonder at the skills of the compounding pharmacist," Judge Kermit Bye wrote. "In fact, from the absolute dearth of information Missouri has disclosed to this court, the 'pharmacy' on which Missouri relies could be nothing more than a high school chemistry class."

Taylor’s laywers struck a deal with The Apothecary Shoppe, an Oklahoma-based pharmacy, to prevent it from providing the state of Missouri with compounded pentobarbital, a drug used for lethal injections, but Missouri officials were able to get it through another source. That source has not been named.

Shortages of drugs used for executions have become more common in the years since the manufacturer of pentobarbital stopped selling it for use in executions. Some states have turned to different drug combinations, such as the one used in January in Ohio, and that led to a 25-minute execution in which the inmate thrashed and gasped for air. Others have sought the drugs from compounding pharmacies, which mix the drug themselves and are not as regulated as other drug sources.

Taylor was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Ann Harrison, a 15 year old girl.