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Attorneys fear Missouri inmate faces ‘grotesque’ execution because of rare medical condition

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for a Missouri death row inmate with a rare medical condition say the tracheostomy tube he relies on to breathe increases the risk of a “grotesque execution process” if he is put to death next week.

Clemency from Gov. Mike Parson may be the last hope for convicted killer Russell Bucklew, who is scheduled to die Oct. 1.

Russell Bucklew

Bucklew is on death row for the 1996 murder of Michael Sanders, who was living with Bucklew’s former girlfriend. After entering a trailer where the two were living with their children, Bucklew fatally shot Sanders and later raped his former girlfriend. Bucklew was arrested after a car chase and shootout with police.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April that the execution could proceed. A spokeswoman for the Republican governor says Parson supports capital punishment but will examine the clemency request.

Bucklew suffers from cavernous hemangioma, causing blood-filled tumors in his head, neck and throat. Court reprieves in 2014 and 2018 spared him hours before he was set to be executed.

The tracheostomy tube became necessary in 2018 when Bucklew contracted meningitis.

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