ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Supreme Court and Missouri's governor declined on Tuesday to block the execution of a man who raped and killed a college student, leaving him on course to be the first U.S. prisoner put to death since an Arizona lethal injection went awry last month.
Michael Worthington, 43, had predicted that the nation's high court and Gov. Jay Nixon would not spare him from the lethal injection scheduled for 12:01 a.m. today, saying in a telephone interview with the Associated Press that he had accepted his fate.
"I figure I'll wake up in a better place tomorrow," Worthington, formerly of Peoria in central Illinois, said earlier Tuesday. "I'm just accepting of whatever's going to happen because I have no choice. The courts don't seem to care about what's right or wrong anymore."
Worthington's attorneys had pressed the Supreme Court to put off his execution, set to take place at a prison south of St. Louis, citing the Arizona execution and two others that were botched in Ohio and Oklahoma, as well as the secrecy involving the drugs used during the process in Missouri.
Those three executions in recent months have renewed the debate over lethal injection. In Arizona, the inmate gasped more than 600 times and took nearly two hours to die. In April, an Oklahoma inmate died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began. And in January, an Ohio inmate snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before dying. Most lethal injections take effect in a fraction of that time, often within 10 or 15 minutes