Roderick Nunley had just hours to live.
Nunley was set to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. on Sep. 1 for kidnapping, raping and murdering 15-year-old Ann Harrison as she waited for a school bus in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1989. But he made a last ditch appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the nine justices to halt his execution on the grounds that the death penalty is unconstitutional.
If the court doesn’t step in, Nunley will be the sixth inmate executed this year in Missouri, The Associated Press reported. Gov. Jay Nixon is also considering a petition for clemency, which claims Nunley’s sentence was racially biased because the prosecutor refused to offer the defendant a deal that would have granted him a life sentence without parole. Nunley and his co-defendant are black, but their victim was white.
Defense attorney Jennifer Herndon argued that the death penalty violated the Eigth Amendment, which deems cruel and unusual punishment unconstitutional. Nunley’s co-defendant in the case, Michael Taylor, was also convicted of first-degree murder. He was executed last year, Boston Herald reported.
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Retired Kansas City Detective Pete Edlund worked on the case and he believes that Nunley should be put to death. "They just take forever to do the deed," Edlund told AP in an interview the week before the scheduled execution. "The delay in executing these two is just nuts because it didn't have anything to do with their guilt. It was legal mumbo jumbo nonsense."
Harrison was apparently a random victim — picked up after Nunley and Taylor went on a cocaine binge and stole a car. Harrison’s father was a former reserve officer with the police department, and her uncle was a Kansas City police officer.
"To all of us, she was part of our police family," Edlund said. "That made it even more important that we solve the case."