Missouri sets execution date for Russell Bucklew

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday set a May execution date for convicted killer Russell Bucklew, continuing a trend of scheduling one execution per month.

Bucklew is set to die by injection at 12:01 a.m. May 21 for killing a man in Cape Girardeau County in 1996.

“We are litigating this in the courts and we are pursuing executive clemency,” Bucklew’s attorney, John William Simon of St. Louis, said.

Missouri has executed five men since November — one each month through March. A sixth, William Rousan, is scheduled to be put to death April 23 for killing a St. Francois County couple in 1993.

Missouri executed two men between 2005 and November. Executions slowed because the U.S. Supreme Court was considering whether lethal injection was constitutional. A 2008 ruling cleared the way for lethal injection, but major drugmakers about that time stopped selling drugs for use in executions, citing ethical concerns.

Late last year, Missouri switched to a single-drug method, using pentobarbital made by an unidentified compounding agency. All five men put to death at the state prison in Bonne Terre, over the past six months — Joseph Paul Franklin in November, Allen Nicklasson in December, Herbert Smulls in January, Michael Taylor in February and Jeffrey Ferguson in March — were executed with pentobarbital.

Bucklew, 45, was convicted in the fatal shooting of Michael Sanders. Sanders was killed on March 21, 1996, about a month after Bucklew and his girlfriend broke up. Bucklew had determined that Sanders was a romantic rival. Authorities said he went to Sanders’ mobile home and shot him while his ex-girlfriend and Sanders’ 6-year-old son were also inside the home.

Bucklew abducted his ex-girlfriend and raped her before driving north on Interstate 55. A trooper spotted the car and apprehended Bucklew after a gunfight. Both the trooper and Bucklew were wounded.

Buckley briefly escaped from the Cape Girardeau County jail before he went to trial in 1997 but was quickly recaptured.

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