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Middleton Executed in Missouri

Despite the best efforts of an obdurate judge and a ready-to-fudge-it shrink, the Eighth Circuit and the Supreme Court saw through it, and the state of Missouri executed multiple killer and meth dealer John Middleton.  Here's the story:

For the sixth time this year, Governor Jay Nixon declined to grant clemency to a death row inmate minutes before the execution deadline. John Middleton, a former meth-dealer convicted of three grisly murders in 1995, was injected with a dose of pentobarbital at 6:58 p.m. and pronounced dead at 7:06.

Middleton had spent nearly two decades in prison since his conviction in 1997. He was 54 years old.

Last night, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Perry halted the former meth dealer's execution less than two hours before the 12:01 a.m. deadline, arguing that Middleton's demonstrated mental health issues "[have] made a significant threshold showing he is incompetent to be executed," and that he should be granted a legal hearing to evaluate his sanity.

In an affidavit, a psychologist who examined Middleton stated he "lacks a rational understanding of the reason for the execution and is therefore not competent to be executed due to a diagnosis of delusional disorder, a psychotic mental illness."

I might add that Judge Perry already had one stay lifted by her superiors, as Kent noted, but, hey, what the heck, she granted another on approximately the same grounds anyway.  (I'll abjure for the moment any comment on the sick irony of Judge Perry's doing her best to add yet more delay to the 19 years it took to carry out the sentence on the very day her colleague across the country was finding that the death penalty is unconstitutional because of too much delay).

[Editor's Note: The U.S. Supreme Court orders denying stay, writs of certiorari, and original habeas corpus are here, here, here, and here.  No dissents are noted. -- KS]

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