Man who prosecuted death row inmate Bucklew calls efforts to stop execution absurd

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ST. LOUIS - Missouri death row inmate Russell Bucklew is scheduled to die by lethal injection on October 1. A petition is underway to try and convince Missouri Gov. Mike Parson to halt the execution.

The ACLU cites a declaration from a medical professional who examined Bucklew as proof the execution would amount to torture because of a rare medical condition Bucklew is living with. The ACLU says the execution process would result in blood vessels breaking because of the condition.

“He is likely to suffocate on his own blood for multiple minutes experiencing excruciating pain,” said Cassandra Stubbs, ACLU Director of the Capital Punishment Project.

The man who prosecuted Bucklew more than 20 years ago finds the effort to save Bucklew’s life absurd and believes Bucklew is the perfect example of why the death penalty is a legal form of punishment in Missouri. Former Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle still recalls his closing argument.

“I referred to him as the Energizer Bunny,” he said. “I pointed out you can shoot him, you could jail him, but he would keep coming after you if he wanted to hurt you and that’s exactly what he did.”

Bucklew kidnapped and raped his former lover and shot and killed her new lover, Michael Sanders. Bucklew was eventually involved in a shootout with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and escaped once from jail.

“He’s just a purely evil sociopath,” said Swingle. “He is the reason we have the death penalty in the state of Missouri; to deal with people like this.”

Sanders' son was just a child when his father was murdered. He has since focused his efforts away from the execution debate. Zach Sanders now leads an effort to convince Missouri lawmakers to put a system in place to allow inmates to donate their organs. He heads up the group Missouri Conservative Citizens Concerned About the Death Penalty and says too many people are waiting for a life-saving organ.

“Hopefully, there can be some good that can come out of all this,” said Sanders. “I do believe there are inmates in prison that would love to try and save a life if given the opportunity.”

Sanders said he tried to arrange a meeting with Bucklew to discuss organ donations. Sanders said Bucklew’s attorneys declined to arrange a meeting.

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