Mo. AG says state may have to use gas chamber

Jul 4, 2013

Credit Attorney General's Office

Attorney General Chris Koster says Missouri may have to resort to using the gas chamber to carry out death sentences. It would be considered as an “unintended consequence” of the state Supreme Court’s refusal to set execution dates.

Executions have been on hold in Missouri since the state Supreme Court has declined to set execution dates. This is because the court says execution dates would be “premature” until a federal legal challenge is resolved regarding the use of the drug propofol as Missouri’s new execution method.

Koster told The Kansas City Star on Tuesday that if the court doesn’t change its course, the legislature may have to fund alternative execution methods. The only execution methods authorized in Missouri are lethal gas and injection.

Richard Dieter is the Executive Director of The Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, D.C. He said it is not clear if the use of the gas chamber would be considered constitutional in today’s society.

“No other state is seriously considering going back to any of those older methods like electrocution, the gas chamber or hanging," Dieter said. "Occasionally someone puts out the proposal, but it has never really been seriously taken up by any legislature.”

Dieter also said Missouri’s supply of propofol, is about to run out because pharmaceutical companies based overseas don’t want to be involved with U.S. executions.