U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued an order late Tuesday suspending the planned execution of a Missouri inmate with a little more than an hour to spare before the inmate’s scheduled lethal injection, says the Associated Press. Alito, who handles emergency matters for Missouri and other states covered by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, didn’t explain why he issued the order suspending Russell Bucklew’s execution, which had been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
But Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster issued a statement saying his office understands the full Supreme Court would consider Bucklew’s requests on Wednesday. Under Missouri law, the state has 24 hours to carry out a death warrant, meaning it could still execute Bucklew anytime on Wednesday if the high court rejects his appeals. Alito’s order came shortly after the full 8th Circuit court lifted a stay granted to Bucklew hours earlier by a three-judge panel of that court. If the execution happens Wednesday, it would be the first in the nation since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month.