Before a Missouri executioner could go to Indiana in 2001 to help put mass killer Timothy McVeigh to death, he needed permission from his probation officer to leave the state, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The request, by a licensed practical nurse, set off alarms within the Missouri Division of Probation and Parole. At least one supervisor spoke out to an agency administrator. “It seems bizarre to me that we would knowingly allow an offender, on active supervision, to participate in the execution process at any level,” she wrote. The use of someone with such legal troubles – two felonies plea-bargained down to misdemeanors for stalking and tampering with property – raises further questions about the expertise and backgrounds of the people the government entrusts to carry out the ultimate punishment. Earlier, it was disclosed that the doctor who developed Missouri’s procedure – and supervised 54 executions – testified anonymously that he was dyslexic, had problems with numbers and knowingly varied doses of the lethal drugs by as much as half.
The Post-Dispatch identified the nurse despite a Missouri law barring any person from “knowingly disclosing the identity of a current or former member of an execution team.” Said Editor Arnie Robbins: “We believe the law is unconstitutional, and we also believe it stifles public discussion and hinders governmental accountability.”