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Missouri Execution Carried Out as Lethal Drug Secrecy Appeal Fails

Image: Missouri Execution Carried Out as Lethal Drug Secrecy Appeal Fails

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014 08:43 AM

By Clyde Hughes

Missouri carried out the execution of a man convicted in the 1993 murder of an elderly couple after an appeal based on the secrecy surrounding lethal injection drugs was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court. Similar state appeals stopped two executions in Oklahoma.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell told Reuters that prison officials pronounced William Rousan, 57, dead about 12:10 a.m. at its prison in Bonne Terre, just miles from where the couple was killed.

Rousan was convicted for murdering Grace Lewis, 62, and sentenced to death. He was given life in prison without parole for the death of her husband, Charles Lewis, 67, wrote Reuters.

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Missouri attorney general Chris Koster said Rousan was the ringleader of a siege on the Lewis' property that included Rousan's son and brother, Robert.

"(Rousan) showed his true character by ordering his 16-year-old son to kill Mrs. Lewis, all so they could steal two cows, soda, a VCR, and some jewelry," Koster said in a statement.

Rousan's attorney fought in court to stop the execution because of charges that Missouri's new execution drug could cause pain and suffering, reported the Springfield News-Leader. Missouri purchased the drugs from an undisclosed compounding pharmacy, said the newspaper.

The eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court both declined to halt the execution. The appeals court declined to comment on its rejection Monday.

"The Missouri statutes regarding the drug are secretive, and we think they should be open and public," said Philip Horwitz, Rousan's attorney.

Despite the drug controversy, Missouri has continued to execute one death row inmate a month since November. The state's next execution, of Russell Bucklew, is set for May 21.

Texas leads the country in executions this year with seven, according to The Associated Press.

The issue around the unnamed pharmacies has popped up in cases around the country but courts have allowed most of the executions to proceed despite the complaints, reported the AP.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court stayed the executions of two death row inmates who challenged the secrecy surrounding the process of buying the execution drugs.

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