The U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay of execution granted to Allen Nicklasson by the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, clearing the way for his execution. Late Wednesday night, Nicklasson was put to death nearly 23 hours after he was originally scheduled to die.
Nicklasson was put to death for the August 1994 murder of motorist Richard Drummond, who stopped on a highway to help Nicklasson and two others whose car had broken down, reports The Associated Press.
SCOTUS Overturns Eighth Circuit's Stay
State officials asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday night to lift the Eighth Circuit's stay and allow them to proceed with Nicklasson's execution, which was scheduled for Wednesday.
Nicklasson, 41, argued that his lawyers were ineffective. An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Monday stayed his execution and the full Eighth Circuit on Tuesday denied the state's request to rehear the decision.
In a split 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to vacate the stay. The decision came at 10:07 p.m. Wednesday, with Justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissenting. Governor Nixon refused to grant clemency, reports Springfield's KOLR10-TV.
Nicklasson was pronounced dead at 10.52 p.m.
New Drug Protocol
Nicklasson was originally scheduled to die October 23, but Missouri Governor Jay Nixon halted the execution due to broad criticism over the state's planned use of the drug propofol, widely used as an anesthetic in medical procedures.
The case is one of many at the center of a national debate over what drugs can or should be used for executions -- specifically from compounding pharmacies now that a growing number of pharmaceutical companies refuse to supply drugs for executions.
This is the second execution in Missouri in three weeks after a nearly three-year hiatus, reports the AP. In late November, the state executed racist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin.
The two executions mark the first since Missouri switched from a three-drug protocol to use of a single drug, pentobarbital -- a short-acting barbiturate mixed by a compounding pharmacy.