A Missouri inmate convicted in a 1998 robbery and double murder was put to death just after midnight in the eighth execution in the state this year and the 10th since November. Earl Ringo Jr. and an accomplice killed delivery driver Dennis Poyser and manager trainee JoAnna Baysinger at a Ruby Tuesday in Columbia in the early hours of July 4, 1998. Both were shot to death at point-blank range. The state's Department of Corrections says Ringo was executed by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 12:31am.
Courts and Gov. Jay Nixon had refused to halt the execution over concerns raised by Ringo's attorneys, who, among other things, questioned Missouri's use of a pre-execution sedative, midazolam. Attorneys argued that the drug could dull Ringo's senses and leave him unable to express any pain or suffering during the process. Ringo declined to take any sedative, including midazolam, the corrections department says. The drug has come under scrutiny after it was used in problematic executions earlier this year in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Arizona. In each case, witnesses said the inmates gasped after their executions began and continued to labor for air before being pronounced dead. (Read more Earl Ringo Jr. stories.)