The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay of execution for a Missouri death row inmate on Tuesday night, hours before he was to be put to death.
Justice Samuel Alito signed the order from the high court, which was sent about two and a half hours before Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls was scheduled to die just after midnight.
The court is expected to rule on Wednesday on two petitions, including a last minute plea that focused on the state’s refusal to disclose the pharmacy that mixed the controversial lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital. The state argues that the pharmacy is part of the execution team and its name cannot be released.
Smulls was sentenced to death for the 1991 killing of St. Louis county jeweler, Stephen Honickman. Smulls shot and killed Honickman and badly injured his wife, Florence during a robbery. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch has called the execution drug controversy a “smoke screen,” arguing that several courts have already ruled agains Smulls and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon denied clemency.
If the Supreme Court rules against the petitions, the execution is expected to proceed on Wednesday.