U.S. Supreme Court Blocks Virginia Execution

October 18, 2007

The Supreme Court blocked Virginia's plan to lethally inject an inmate after their decision to review the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures.

On Wednesday the high court stopped the execution of Christopher Scott Emmett, 36 hours before his scheduled execution. Emmett was convicted of killing a coworker in 2001.

The Supreme Courts decision to review lethal injection has slowed the annual number of executions to the lowest level in a decade amid renewed concerns about whether it's too cruel.

So far this year, 42 people have been executed. Texas, where 26 prisoners have been executed this year, plans no more executions in 2007 after federal and state judges stopped four death sentences from being carried out.

Fewer than 50 executions will take place this year, even if several states pushing ahead with lethal injections defeat legal efforts to stop them. The last time executions numbered fewer than 50 was in 1996, when there were 45.

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