A killer on death row in Missouri has no right to a “painless death”, the US Supreme Court has ruled.
Russell Bucklew was convicted of murder, kidnap and rape in 1996.
The 50-year-old argued that death by lethal injection would cause him undue agony by rupturing blood-filled tumours on his face, head, neck and throat caused by a congenital condition called cavernous hemangioma.
His lawyers said the death penalty was in violation of the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which bars cruel and unusual punishment.
However, judges ruled 5-4 against Bucklew’s appeal and said he had failed to present enough evidence for them to grant his request to be executed by lethal gas instead.
They said Bucklew failed to show that lethal gas could be “readily implemented” as required under Supreme Court precedent, adding there was no evidence that his chosen alternative would be less painful.
Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote: “The Eighth Amendment does not guarantee a prisoner a painless death – something that, of course, isn’t guaranteed to many people, including most victims of capital crimes.”
The judge, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2017, also noted that Bucklew was awaiting execution for crimes he committed more than two decades ago.
“Yet since then, he has managed to secure delay through lawsuit after lawsuit,” he added.
A spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said: “The state of Missouri and the victims of Russell Bucklew’s crimes have waited 23 long years for this just and lawful sentence to be carried out.
“We are one step closer to justice.” he added.
Bucklew was convicted of murdering Michael Sanders, who was living with his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Ray at the time, at his trailer home and shooting at his six-year-old son.
He was also convicted of kidnapping and raping his former girlfriend and wounding a police officer before he was arrested, according to court papers.
Supreme Court judges’ diverging opinions over the death penalty have come to light in recent cases.
In February, the court allowed the execution of Muslim death row inmateDominique Ray in Alabama to go ahead after his request for an imam to be present was rejected.
In a turnaround, the court last week blocked the execution of Patrick Murphy in Texas because his Buddhist spiritual adviser was not allowed into the death chamber with him.