The state of Missouri executed convicted murderer Herbert Smulls yesterday for a crime he committed more than two decades ago. The lengthy gap between conviction and execution was due to nearly 20 years of appeals—the final of which was filed just 30 minutes before his death. Here's the Associated Press with the final flurry of paperwork that wasn't over until after the deed had been done:
The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay late Tuesday before clearing numerous appeals Wednesday, including the final one that was filed less than 30 minutes before Smulls was pronounced dead. The denial came about 30 minutes after his death.
When asked about the time between the appeal and the execution, Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O'Connell said he was "not familiar with that."
The final round of appeals centered on the drug used for the execution. Smulls' defense voiced fears the injection of a form of pentobarbital—a relatively untested drug that has now been used for only three executions in the state—could cause the inmate to suffer during the execution. (The state has kept the specifics of the drug largely under wraps, even withholding the name of the provider.)
In the end, however, it appears as though there were no outward signs of pain for Smulls during his final moments—unlike what happened to an Ohio man during an execution earlier this month. Smulls "mouthed a few words, then breathed heavily twice and shut his eyes for good," reads the AP account, adding he "showed no outward signs of distress in an execution process that took about nine minutes."
Missouri switched over to the new drug because the drug makers behind the previous three-drug cocktail have banned it from being used for executions.