JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday set a January execution date for an inmate convicted in the 1991 robbery and slaying of a St. Louis-area jeweler.
Herbert Smulls, 55, is scheduled to die Jan. 29 for the fatal shooting of Chesterfield jeweler Stephen Honickman while Smulls and an accomplice were robbing the store owned by Honickman and his wife, Florence Honickman.
Smulls' attorney, Charles Rogers, said Monday's announcement wasn't expected.
"We were utterly taken by surprise when we learned about it this morning," Rogers said.
Missouri once was among the most active death penalty states in the U.S, but there have been few death sentences carried out in recent years and legal wrangling over execution procedures. The state's Nov. 20 execution of Joseph Paul Franklin was Missouri's first in nearly three years. Another execution is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.
Last month's execution was Missouri's using the single drug pentobarbital. The Department of Corrections obtains the drug through a compounding pharmacy, and few details have been made public about the compounding pharmacy making it because it is part of the execution team. State law provides for privacy for all associated with executions.
Smulls is one of several death row inmates who are challenging Missouri's execution method.