"Missouri execution on hold after late stay granted," is this morning's updated AP report, via the Kansas City Star.
A Missouri execution has been delayed until at least midday Wednesday after a federal judge granted a last-minute stay.
John Middleton was scheduled to die one minute after midnight Wednesday for killing three people in rural northern Missouri in 1995. Less than two hours before the execution, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry granted a stay, ruling that there was enough evidence of mental illness that a hearing should be held.
Courts have established that executing the mentally ill is unconstitutional.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court adjourned for the night without a ruling.
The state could execute Middleton at any time Wednesday if the stay is lifted.
It was a confusing end to a day that saw a flurry of court actions. Perry first granted a stay early Tuesday, but it was overturned by the appeals court. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn the appeals court ruling, and also declined to halt the execution on several other grounds, including the contention by Middleton’s attorneys that he was innocent of the crimes.
Middleton’s attorneys then went back to Perry, who once again granted a stay. However the appeals court eventually rules, the case is likely to end up again in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch report is, "Federal judge grants second stay, delaying Missouri execution," by Jeremy Kohler.
The execution of murderer John C. Middleton was stayed by a federal judge for a second time late Tuesday, delaying an execution that had been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. today.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry had stayed the execution earlier Tuesday, writing that Middleton had demonstrated “a substantial threshold showing of insanity” and that the execution should be delayed until the court considers arguments that he is not competent to be executed.
A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in St. Louis removed the stay, agreeing with Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster that Middleton should have made a more timely claim within the state court system, and saying Perry had abused her discretion.
But Perry reinstated the stay about 11 p.m. Tuesday, saying there was a lack of a clear procedure under Missouri law for raising the claim” and “reasonable confusion about the appropriate way to raise the claim before the Missouri courts.”
She said Middleton’s lawyers “did not intentionally delay resolution of the claim or delay it for tactical reasons.”
“Although I recognize that the state, the families of the victims, and the public have a very legitimate interest in seeing executions carried out without unnecessary delay, the public also has a legitimate interest in having constitutional rights of convicted persons upheld.”
Koster appealed the second stay to the 8th Circuit, asking it to “do the same thing it did a few hours ago.”
Richard Sindel, a St. Louis-based attorney for Middleton, filed a notice just after midnight indicating he would file a response to Koster’s appeal by 8 a.m. today, writing that he understood that the appeals court would not rule before then.
Earlier coverage of John Middleton's case begins at the link.