Missouri Executes Man Early Wednesday After Courts Deny Stay Requests

John Winfield was the second prisoner to be executed in the U.S. in a two-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday.

Update: John Winfield was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, Winfield took four or five deep breaths as the drug was injected, puffed his cheeks twice and then fell silent.

AP Photo/Missouri Department of Corrections

Update at 11:29 p.m.: The Supreme Court denied the stay requests, allowing the execution to proceed.

WASHINGTON — The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed a Missouri execution slated for 12:01 a.m. CT Wednesday to proceed, reversing a trial court decision from last week putting the execution on hold.

Of the 11 judges to consider the matter, seven supported vacating the lower court’s stay of John Winfield’s execution. Four would have kept the stay in place.

Winfield, convicted in the murders of Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy, had argued that “state actors violated his due process rights by discouraging [Terance] Cole [the staff laundry manager at the prison where Winfield is held] from supporting a grant of clemency,” per Tuesday’s opinion.

“We conclude that Winfield has not demonstrated a significant possibility of success on his claim that the Missouri clemency process violated his rights under the Due Process Clause,” the appeals court held Tuesday.

Judges Diana Murphy, Kermit Bye, Jane Kelly and Michael Melloy dissented from the decision. Judge Duane Benton “did not participate in the consideration or decision of this matter,” per the court.

The 8th Circuit has vacated the stay of execution previously granted to John Winfield, who is scheduled to be executed on Wednesday:

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Update at 7:43 p.m.: Winfield’s lawyers have now asked the Supreme Court to stay his execution:

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Winfield’s lawyers filed a petition for certiorari as well, asking the court to take his case:

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Update at 9:13 p.m.: Missouri officials oppose Winfield’s cert petition and stay request:

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Update at 10:47 p.m.: Winfield’s lawyers filed his reply:

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Update at 11:39 p.m.: The Supreme Court denied any pending stay requests, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor would have granted the stay requested by one petition:

Update at 11:45 p.m.: Gov. Jay Nixon denied Winfield’s clemency request:

Just in: @GovJayNixon denies clemency for Winfield. #deathpenalty

— Chris McDaniel (@csmcdaniel)

Update at 1:23 a..m.: The state’s attorney general issued a statement after the execution:

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Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.
Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.
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