Death-row lawyers and other opponents say the nation's third botched execution in six months is more evidence for the courts that lethal injection carries too many risks and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
Death-penalty opponents say the execution of an Arizona inmate who took two hours to die shows that state experiments with different drugs and dosages are a callous trial-and-error process. The result is that every few months, an inmate gasps, chokes and takes an unusually long time to die.
Lethal injection has been challenged in the courts many times, mostly without success. The biggest recent challenge for death-penalty states has been obtaining lethal chemicals after major drug makers stopped selling drugs for use in executions. That forced states to find alternative injection drugs.
That hasn't stopped the Missouri Supreme Court from setting a September execution date for convicted killer Leon Taylor. Taylor is scheduled to die at Sept. 10 at the state prison in Bonne Terre for killing a suburban Kansas City service station attendant during a 1994 robbery. Authorities say he tried to kill the victim's 8-year-old stepdaughter, too, but the gun misfired.
Missouri has executed six men this year. Only Florida and Texas, with seven each, have executed more. Another execution is scheduled for Aug. 6, when Michael Shane Worthington is scheduled to be put to death for the rape and killing of a suburban St. Louis neighbor in 1995.