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Supreme Court denies stay of execution for inmate Herbert Smulls

By Bill Mears, CNN
updated 6:04 PM EST, Wed January 29, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Smulls was sentenced to death for killing a jewelry store owner
  • Defense: State should disclose pharmacy providing the injection drug

(CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to block the scheduled execution of a Missouri death row inmate after briefly granting a stay.

In their three-sentence order, the justices gave no explanation for ultimately denying the last-chance appeals filed by lawyers for Herbert Smulls.

He was set to be given a lethal injection overnight, but the appeals were filed with the high court mid-evening Tuesday, when five of the justices were preparing to attend President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.

Shortly after the speech ended, Justice Samuel Alito -- who did not attend -- issued an order delaying the capital punishment, "pending further order" of the court.

Court officials at the time offered no reason, but the nine justices likely wanted more time to fully consider the various appeals. There was no noted dissent.

Smulls, 56, was convicted of killing Stephen Honickman and wounding his wife, Florence, while robbing their Chesterfield jewelry store in 1991.

His lawyers had filed last-minute appeals, saying the state ought to disclose the compounding pharmacy that would provide the lethal injection drug.

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