The Kansas City Star reports, "Missouri’s attorney general hints at gas chamber’s return." It's by Tony Rizzo.
Will the future of capital punishment in Missouri depend on an archaic relic from the past?
The gas chamber, long ago dismantled but still on the books as a method of carrying out death sentences in the state, could be resurrected as an “unintended consequence” of the Missouri Supreme Court’s refusal to set execution dates, according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.
The court’s ruling last year that setting execution dates was “premature” while a legal challenge to the state’s lethal injection protocol is pending is “effectively negating Missouri’s death penalty statute,” Koster argued in a motion filed Monday with the court.
Waiting for that litigation to run its course in federal court could result in the state’s limited supply of the execution drug propofol expiring on the shelf unused, Koster said in the motion.
“Unless the court changes its current course, the legislature will soon be compelled to fund statutorily-authorized alternative methods of execution to carry out lawful judgments,” Koster said.
The only methods of execution authorized by statute in Missouri are “by the administration of lethal gas or by means of the administration of lethal injection,” the state law says.
“It may be the last option we have to enforce Missouri law,” Koster said Tuesday.
The last gas chamber execution in Missouri was carried out in 1965. After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1972 halted executions across the country, Missouri and other states rewrote their capital punishment laws and turned to lethal injection as the primary method of carrying out death sentences.
Although its chamber has been dismantled, Missouri never removed the lethal gas option from the law.
"Mo. AG Says State May Have To Use Gas Chamber," is AP coverage, via KWMU-FM, St. Louis Public Radio.
Attorney General Chris Koster says Missouri may have to resort to using the gas chamber to carry out death sentences 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. 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.
Earlier coverage from Missouri begins at the link. Earlier this year, a California legislator called for a return of that state's gas chamber; more at the link.