Late last night, Justice Samuel Alito issued an order to temporarily stay the execution of a Missouri man that was scheduled to take place at 12:01am this morning. The inmate, Herbert Smulls, was convicted of murdering a Chesterfield jewelry store owner and seriously injuring his wife during a robbery in 1991. The reason Mr. Smulls was given at least a few more days to live: our State’s refusal to name where it received the lethal-injection drug. Smulls’ attorney argued that refusing to disclose where the drug comes from and the exact chemical makeup of the drug violates her client’s 8th Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. She argued that failing to disclose this information would subject her client to an “excruciating death”.
Missouri on the other hand argued that there is already a statute in place that prohibits naming members of the “execution team” which applies to the pharmacy that supplies the drug. Attorney General Chris Koster went on to say that where the drug is purchased and what exactly it consists of can rightly be considered a “state secret” that does not need to be revealed for general security purposes.
What do you think? Does it really matter where we get our lethal injection drugs or what they consist of? If a convicted murdered who has been sentenced to death for atrocious crimes suffers the “excruciating death” that his attorney claims will be the result of our state’s omission, is that a big deal?