A Missouri man who killed a jeweler during a 1991 robbery was executed for the crime late yesterday, marking the state’s third lethal injection in as many months, the Associated Press reports. Herbert Smulls, 56, was executed by a lethal injection of pentobarbital. He was convicted of killing Stephen Honickman and badly injuring his wife, Florence, during a robbery at their jewelry shop in suburban St. Louis. Florence Honickman questioned why it took 22 years of appeals before Smulls was put to death. “Make no mistake, the long, winding and painful road leading up to this day has been a travesty of justice,” she said.
Smulls’ attorney, Cheryl Pilate, filed many appeals challenging the state’s refusal to disclose where it obtained its execution drug, saying that refusal made it impossible to know whether the drug could cause pain and suffering during the execution. The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay late Tuesday, shortly before the scheduled 12:01 a.m. Wednesday execution, but the high court cleared numerous appeals on Wednesday night — even the one Pilate filed less than 30 minutes before Smulls was pronounced dead, though the final denial came about 30 minutes after his death. Prosecutors said the defense’s arguments were simply a smoke screen aimed at sparing a murderer’s life.