A shortage of drugs and words imperiled the outcomes of a state execution and county spelling bee, respectively, this week in Missouri.
As we noted earlier, the execution of Michael Taylor—set for February 26—may be postponed after a pharmacy in Oklahoma agreed not to sell the Missouri officials the lethal execution drug pentobarbital after Taylor's lawyers filed a lawsuit. Taylor was convicted of raping and murdering a 15-year-old girl in 1989.
States have been scrambling in recent months to find ways to execute prisoners on death row as drug supplies have dried up in recent years and new state-crafted recipes have not yielded the desired results as easily.
In January, an Oklahoma inmate cried out that his whole body was burning during an execution. And in 2012, it took South Dakota officials 20 minutes to declare an inmate dead because his heart kept beating.
On Thursday, it was reported that Missouri found a new pentobarbital supplier. Taylor's lawyers responded with a filing offering that Taylor was entitled to check the background of the new pharmacy.
Meanwhile, yesterday on the Missouri side of Kansas City, the Jackson County Spelling Bee ran into a delay of its own after a marathon showdown between two middle school students left officials without any words to play. After 19 rounds, the final 25 students had been whittled down to two.
Fifth-grader Sophie Hoffman ( who crushed “schadenfreude,” “mahout,” and “barukhzy”) and seventh-grader Kush Sharma (who nailed “scherzo,” “fantoccini” and “intaglio") went another 40 rounds before the judges gave up and had to schedule a match for next month.
“We did over 60 rounds,” said Mary Olive Thompson, a library outreach manager and co-coordinator of the spelling bee. “We ran out of words.”
The next round will feature words from the entire 1,664 page dictionary instead of just the Scripps list. Let's hope "pentobarbital" stays off the list.