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Gov. Nixon Postpones Execution Over Propofol Use

Justin Wingerter
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File photo of a death chamber in a prison. (Photo by PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of a death chamber in a prison. (Photo by PAUL BUCK/AFP/Getty Images)

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Gov. Jay Nixon has postponed an execution scheduled for later this month.

Allen Nicklasson was set to be killed on October 23 by way of lethal injection. However, controversy over propofol, the sedative which was to be used, has forced Nixon to delay the execution.

“As Governor, my interest is in making sure justice is served and public health is protected,” Nixon said in an emailed statement. “This is why, in light of the issues that have been raised surrounding the use of propofol in executions, I have directed the Department of Correction that the execution of Allen Nicklasson, as set for October 23, will not proceed.”

The European Union has warned Missouri’s Department of Corrections that it could stop shipments of propofol if it is used for executions in the United States. Executions are prohibited in the EU and nearly all of the world’s supply of the power sedative is manufactured in Europe.

Nixon said in the statement that he has directed Missouri’s Execution Protocol to find a different form of lethal injection. Attorney General Chris Koster will then ask the Missouri Supreme Court to set a new execution date for Nicklasson.

Nicklasson’s attorney, Jennifer Herndon, says she got news of the delay via text message Friday morning.

“Obviously, we’re happy to hear that. I was thinking our first line of defense was in the Missouri Supreme Court. In some states they will do it but it’s nice to not even have to go through that,” she said.

Threats by the European Union led the Missouri Society of Anesthesiologists to oppose the use of propofol in the execution of Nicklasson as well as the November 20 execution of Joseph Franklin.

In a statement Friday, Fresenius Kabi, the German company which produces most of the world’s propofol, praised the governor’s decision.

“This is a decision that will be welcomed by the medical community and patients nationwide who were deeply concerned about the potential of a drug shortage,” Fresenius CEO John Ducker said. “We are hopeful other states follow Governor Nixon’s lead on this vital matter of public health.”

Currently on the books there are two legal methods for the governor to use: lethal injection and lethal gas. Gov. Nixon said over the summer that the state does not have a gas chamber and that lethal gas is not a viable option for executions in the state.

“It’s clear that it’s not in anybody’s best interest to be executing people with propofol,” Herndon argues.

Nicklasson, nicknamed the “Good Samaritan Killer,” was sentenced to death in 1996 for his role in the murder of three people – Richard Drummond, Joseph Babcock, and Charlene Babcock – who stopped to help him and two accomplices after their car broke down along Interstate 70 in Missouri.

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