SUNDAY TIMES WEB DESK:By a 5-4 vote, the nation’s highest court declined to delay the planned execution in the state of Missouri of Russell Bucklew, 50.

Bucklew is on death row for the 1996 kidnapping and rape of his former girlfriend and the murder of a man who had given refuge to the woman.

In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Bucklew was not contesting the validity of his death sentence but the manner of his planned execution.

Bucklew suffers from a medical condition known as congenital cavernous hemangioma that causes tumours of malformed blood vessels to grow on his head, face, and neck.

His lawyers claimed that lethal injection could cause him to suffocate on his own blood and would violate the US Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”