Michael Anthony Taylor, had been sentenced to death after pleading guilty to first degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping and forcible rape. His victim was 15-year-old Ann Harrison.
Taylor challenged the method of his execution claiming that Missouri's lethal injection procedure violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by creating a substantial and unnecessary risk that he would "suffer the wanton infliction of gratuitous pain." Another Missouri death row inmate, Richard D. Clay, had intervened in the lawsuit asserting the same claim.
The procedure involves administering a 5-gram injection of sodium pentothal, a 60-milligram injection of pancuronium bromide and a 240-milliequivalent injection of potassium chloride, with each injection separated by a saline flush. The injections are administered by an IV catheter that a board-certified surgeon inserts into the femoral vein.
Regarding the ruling, Gov. Matt Blunt issued the following statement:
One of the most important jobs I have as governor is to help keep Missourians safe. Capital punishment is a vital deterrent to the most serious of crimes. I support Missouri’s death penalty statutes and have worked to ensure our law is applied with justice and fairness. In the interest of protecting Missourians, I am pleased the court ruled in favor of the state’s limited, reasonable and effectively enforced death penalty and I am directing the Department of Corrections to prepare execution procedures in compliance with the ruling.
During Blunt’s administration, the Department of Corrections has carried out five executions.