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The U.S. Supreme Court granted a temporary stay of execution for Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls on Tuesday night.

Justice Samuel Alito signed the order that was sent out after President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech, about two-and-a-half hours before Smulls was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Smulls' lawyer, Cheryl Pilate, had made last-minute pleas Tuesday to spare his life, focusing on the state's refusal to disclose from which compounding pharmacy they obtain the lethal-injection drug, pentobarbital. Missouri has argued the compounding pharmacy is part of the execution team _ and therefore its name cannot be released to the public.

Smulls, 56, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a St. Louis County jeweler and badly injuring his wife during a 1991 robbery.

Pilate says the stay is temporary while the high court reviews the case, but she is hopeful the stay will become permanent.


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