Last-minute appeals pending in Missouri execution

ST. LOUIS — A Missouri man who was set to become the first U.S. inmate put to death since a lethal injection went awry last month in Arizona filed last-minute appeals Tuesday to the U.S. Supreme Court and asked the governor for clemency.

Michael Worthington, 43, raped and strangled a female college student in 1995. But his attorneys pressed the nation’s high court to put off his execution planned for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at a prison south of St. Louis, calling into question 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.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon also was weighing Worthington’s clemency request, spokesman Scott Holste said.

The three botched executions in recent months have renewed the debate over lethal injection. In Arizona last month, an inmate gasped more than 600 times and took nearly two hours to die. In January, an Ohio inmate snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before dying. And a few months later in Oklahoma, an inmate died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began. Most lethal injections take effect in a fraction of that time, often within 10 or 15 minutes.

Ohio, Oklahoma and Arizona all use midazolam, a drug more commonly given to help patients relax before surgery. In executions, it is part of a two- or three-drug lethal injection.

Texas and Missouri instead administer a single large dose of pentobarbital — often used to treat convulsions and seizures and to euthanize animals. Missouri changed to pentobarbital late last year and since has carried out eight executions during which inmates showed no obvious signs of distress.

Missouri and Texas have turned to compounding pharmacies to make versions of pentobarbital. But like most states, they refuse to name their drug suppliers, creating a shroud of secrecy that has prompted lawsuits.

Worthington, originally from Peoria in central Illinois, was sentenced to death in 1998 after pleading guilty to slaying Melinda “Mindy” Griffin, a neighbor in Lake St. Louis, just west of St. Louis.

Worthington confessed that in September 1995, he cut open a window screen to break in to the college finance major’s condominium, choked her into submission and raped her before strangling her when she regained consciousness. He stole her car keys and jewelry, along with credit cards he used to buy drugs.

Worthington confessed to the killing but insisted he couldn’t remember details and that he was prone to blackouts due to alcohol and cocaine abuse.

DNA tests later linked Worthington to the slaying.

During his sentencing hearing, Worthington’s attorney argued that a life term would be more fitting, saying the man had abusive parents who got him addicted to drugs and made him steal.

On Tuesday, Griffin’s 76-year-old parents anticipated witnessing Worthington die.

“It’s been 19 years, and I feel like there’s going to be a finality,” Griffin’s mother, Carol Angelbeck, told The Associated Press by telephone Tuesday, a day after flying in to St. Louis from their Florida home. With the execution, “I won’t have to ever deal with the name Michael Worthington again. I’m hoping for my family’s sake, my sake, that we can go there (to the prison) and get this over with.”

“In this case, there is no question in anyone’s mind he did it, so why does it take 18 or 19 years to go through with this?” added Jack Angelbeck, Griffin’s father. “This drags on and on. At this point, it’s ridiculous, and hopefully it’s going to end.”

More in Local News

Within an hour, 2 planes crash-land at Paine Field

One simply landed hard and went off the end of a runway. Another crash involved unextended landing gear.

Mill Creek’s Donna Michelson ready to retire at year’s end

The city’s longest-serving council member says she has every intention of staying involved.

Leanne Smiciklas, the friendly lady who served customers of her husband’s Old School Barbeque from a schoolbus parked in front of the Reptile Zoo east of Monroe, has died at 64. (Dan Bates / Herald file)
Without her, beloved BBQ hotspot in Monroe can’t go on

Leanne Smiciklas, who ran the now-closed Old School BBQ along Highway 2 with her husband, died.

Foundation awards grants to Arlington schools

The Arlington Education Foundation on Nov. 13 presented a check to the… Continue reading

Snohomish County firefighters head to California for 18 days

They’re from Fire District 26 in Gold Bar, Getchell Fire and Fire District 7.

State commission reprimands Snohomish County judge for DUI

Judge Marybeth Dingledy had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a day in jail.

Driver arrested after car strikes pedestrian in Everett

The pedestrian was crossing the road near 12th Street and Broadway. He was injured.

Active Casino Road volunteer honored for work

Molina Healthcare recently honored Jorge Galindo, from Everett, as one of its… Continue reading

Over $12K raised to InspireHER

InspireHER, a local organization that encourages female empowerment, raised over $12,000 at… Continue reading

Most Read