A condemned Missouri inmate faces a potentially "gruesome and painful" execution because of a rare medical condition that compromises the man's veins and causes multiple tumors in his head and throat, his attorney says. Russell "Rusty" Bucklew is scheduled to die by injection Tuesday evening for killing a former girlfriend's new boyfriend in 1996 in eastern Missouri. Bucklew, 49, was moments away from execution in May 2014 when the US Supreme Court halted it amid concerns about Bucklew's medical condition. He suffers from cavernous hemangioma, a rare ailment that causes weakened and malformed blood vessels, as well as blood-filled tumors in his nose and throat, the AP reports.
Nearly four years later, the condition has worsened, attorney Cheryl Pilate says. The inmate's "rare and severe condition creates a very substantial risk of a gruesome execution, with choking and gagging on blood and the infliction of excruciating pain," Pilate says. A panel of the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals has already refused to stop the execution. An appeal and stay request are pending before the US Supreme Court. Bucklew's appeals also have suggested that if the execution is carried out, the state should use lethal gas instead of an injection of pentobarbital. Missouri law still lists gas as an option, but the state no longer has a gas chamber and has not used the method since 1965. (Oklahoma plans to be the first state to use nitrogen for executions.)