Death Penalty

Supreme Court Lifts Stay on Missouri Execution

Without explanation


The U.S. Supreme Court has lifted its stay on the scheduled execution Wednesday of a Missouri death-row inmate whose lawyers had challenged the state's refusal to disclose where it obtained its lethal injection drug.

The high court issued a temporary stay less than three hours before Herbert Smulls was scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre. Smulls, 56, was sentenced to death for killing a suburban St. Louis jeweler and badly injuring his wife during a 1991 robbery.

But the court lifted the stay without explanation just before 5 p.m., meaning the execution could move forward. Missouri law allows an execution to occur at any time on the day it is scheduled. Witnesses to the execution had been told to report to the prison by noon.