A Texas killer whose attorneys are fighting the lethal-injection procedure received a stay of execution yesterday from the U.S. Supreme Court. Kevin Lee Zimmerman contends that lethal injections can mask severe pain and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, the Houston Chronicle reports.
The high court, if it agrees to hear the case, is likely to consider only the broader legal issue of whether lower federal courts should consider such civil-rights claims.
Zimmerman, 42, who was convicted in the 1987 fatal stabbing and robbery of a California man at a hotel, had finished his last meal when the word came. The case also forced a delay in the execution of death row inmate Billy Vickers. A third scheduled execution was delayed by a mental-retardation claim.
It was unclear what effect, if any, the Supreme Court action might have on other Texas executions. There are 452 men and women on Texas death row. Zimmerman would have been the 25th killer to be executed this year.