February 26, 2014
Taylor did not use his right to request a specific last meal and was served potato soup and a sandwich.
Missouri has gone ahead with executing a death-row prisoner using a drug from an unspecified source. The lethal injection of pentobarbital used to kill Michael Taylor, 47, who raped and murdered a teenage girl in 1989, was presumed to have been bought by the state from a compounding pharmacy – a supply arrangement that sparked legal challenges over the potential cruelty of using an unregulated drug.
In a brief phone conversation with The Kansas City Star just hours before the execution, Taylor said he had written a letter to Ann’s parents and that a prison official assured him it would be offered to them. In the letter, Taylor said, he expressed “my sincerest apology and heartfelt remorse.”
“I hope that they’ll accept it,” Taylor said of the letter.
Taylor offered no final statement. He mouthed silent words to his parents, two clergymen and two other relatives who witnessed his death. As the process began he took two deep breaths before closing his eyes for the last time.
Taylor was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. Federal courts and the governor had refused last-minute appeals from his attorneys, who argued that execution drugs purchased from a compounding pharmacy could have caused Taylor inhuman pain and suffering.
Taylor’s victim, 15-year-old Ann Harrison, was in her driveway holding her school books, flute and purse when she was abducted by Taylor and Roderick Nunley. The men pulled her into their stolen car, took her to a home, then raped and fatally stabbed the girl as she pleaded for her life.
Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.
In their appeal Taylor’s attorneys questioned Missouri’s use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide pentobarbital. They also cited concerns about the state executing inmates before appeals were complete and argued that Taylor’s original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty.
The Oklahoma-based compounding pharmacy Apothecary Shoppe agreed last week that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor’s execution, which left Missouri to find a new supplier. The attorney general, Chris Koster, later disclosed that a new provider had been found but refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state’s execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.
Taylor’s attorneys argued use of the drug from an unspecified source could cause an inmate pain and suffering because no one could check if the maker was legitimate and had a record of producing safe drugs.
The official makers of pentobarbital refuse to sell it for executions.
AUDIO: Bernard interview 7:40
AUDIO: Post-execution news conference 8:23