Missourians against death penalty prepare for first execution in two and a half years

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COLUMBIA - Vigils are scheduled around the state prior to the execution of Russell Bucklew on Tuesday, the first execution in the state in over two and a half years.

Two of these vigils will be in Mid-Missouri. The first will take place outside of the governor's office at the state capitol in Jefferson City. The second will be in Columbia, in front of the columns at Courthouse Plaza.

Bucklew was convicted of a 1996 murder and rape and has twice avoided his death sentence. He has a rare condition called cavernous hemangioma, which causes blood-filled tumors to develop in his head and throat. His attorneys have argued that a lethal injection would cause him to choke on his own blood, leading to a "gruesome spectacle."

Laird Okie is the co-chairman of the Columbia chapter of the Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP). He said there are other things the government could be spending its money on.

"The death penalty is more expensive than life in prison," Okie said. "That money could be spent in prevention, for police, or for support of the victims."

MADP's Executive Director, Elyse Max, said the cost of bringing a capital case to court is $200,000, that's before appeals.

Max also said those getting the death penalty don't always get a fair shake.

"What we have found is that more times than not poor people and people of color are the ones that get the death penalty," Max said.

Vigils will also be held in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield.