Supreme Court rules against Missouri murderer in death penalty case

FILE PHOTO: The building of the U.S. Supreme Court is pictured in Washington

FILE PHOTO: The building of the U.S. Supreme Court is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 18, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied a Missouri murderer a chance to avoid execution by lethal injection after his lawyers argued that the procedure might inflict undue agony because of a rare medical condition in an unusual case concerning which method should be used to impose the death penalty.

The justices ruled 5-4 that Russell Bucklew, 50, had failed to present enough evidence for them to let him ask a lower court to allow him to be executed by lethal gas because lethal injection might rupture blood-filled tumors on his body that result from a congenital condition called cavernous hemangioma.

The ruling paves the way for Bucklew's execution by lethal injection. The court's five conservatives were in the majority and its four liberals dissented.

Bucklew's lawyers had argued that the pain caused by lethal injection would violate the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Editing by Will Dunham)

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