US & Canada

Lethal injection: Michael Worthington execution fuels row

Michael Worthington, Missouri Image copyright AP
Image caption Worthington's plea to stop his execution to allow more scrutiny of lethal drugs secrecy was denied

A man has been put to death in the US state of Missouri for raping and killing a college student in 1995.

Michael Worthington, 43, was the first American prisoner to be executed by lethal injection since last month, when a prisoner in Arizona took nearly two hours to die.

Worthington had confessed to attacking, raping and murdering 24-year-old Melinda Griffin at her home.

He was pronounced dead at 12:11am, 10 minutes after the procedure began.

Worthington's lawyers had urged the Supreme Court to put off his execution, citing last month's Arizona execution and two other botched cases in Ohio and Oklahoma, as well as the controversy over the secrecy involving lethal drugs.

But the judge refused, saying "there is no question about the brutality of this crime, or doubt of Michael Worthington's guilt''.

All three recent cases have renewed the debate over lethal injection.

In Arizona, the prisoner gasped more than 600 times during his execution. In Oklahoma in April, the prisoner died of an apparent heart attack 43 minutes after his execution began, and a prisoner in Ohio snorted and gasped for 26 minutes before dying in January.

Most lethal injections take effect within 10 or 15 minutes.

In Missouri, like in most other US states, they refuse to name their drug suppliers, which has led to cases of legal action.


Worthington was sentenced to death in 1998 after pleading guilty to killing Ms Griffin.

He confessed that in September 1995, he had broken into the college finance student's condominium in Lake St Louis, west of St Louis in Missouri, before choking and raping her, then strangling her after she regained consciousness.

Later, DNA tests linked Mr Worthington to the killing.

In his final written statement before the execution began, he blamed his death on the politics of capital punishment and "revenge''.

"I'll no longer have to suffer. May God forgive those who call this justice,'' the statement went on.

Ms Griffin's mother, Carol Angelbeck, watched Mr Worthington die.

"I feel I'm glad he's dead,'' she told reporters. "I won't have to deal with him, with our legal system. It's just about Mindy now.''

More on this story