Thursday, June 14, 2007 By Peter Wylie ~ Southeast Missourian
The execution proceedings for Russell Bucklew and Andrew Lyons, both convicted murderers from Cape Girardeau, now can continue after a statewide stay on lethal injection executions was lifted June 4.
Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle said he is glad the stay has been lifted. "I felt it was ridiculous the federal judge in Kansas City put a stay on the lethal injections, and I applaud the 8th Circuit on their ruling," Swingle said. "For the death penalty to have its desired deterrent effect, executions have to be carried out in a timely fashion. Both Bucklew and Lyons have been on death row for over 10 years now."
U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan issued the stay in order to examine if the lethal injection was cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. A panel of three judges of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined the punishment to be legal after examining records of previous executions in Missouri.
On June 8, Attorney General Jay Nixon filed motions with the Supreme Court to set execution dates for Bucklew and Lyons, along with eight others.
Swingle said Bucklew, who kidnapped and raped his ex-girlfriend in 1996 after killing her new boyfriend, Michael Sanders, in front of four children, deserves his punishment.
"Bucklew is the most evil man I've ever prosecuted," Swingle said. "It's good news he's going to be executed. He really is a monster."
Swingle said he's also happy to see an end in sight for Lyons' case. "He committed a horrible triple homicide," Swingle said. "He wiped out three generations of a family with a shotgun."
Lyons shot and killed ex-girlfriend Bridgette Harris, their 11-month-old son, Dontay, and Harris' mother, Evelyn, on Sept. 20, 1992.
John Fougere, spokesman for the attorney general, said the filings came after the subjects had exhausted their state and federal appeals.
"Once a capital case reaches that point, we file a motion to set the execution date," Fougere said. "It's standard procedure."
Mary Blecha, Missouri Supreme Court deputy communications counsel, said no timeline for the executions has been set.
Once cases are filed, Supreme Court justices do not have a set time by which they have to rule. The rules governing the court only mandate that "a judge shall dispose of all judicial matters promptly, efficiently and fairly."
Blecha said dates for executions will not be set until after the court resumes session Sept. 5.
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