Second Federal Judge to Weigh in on Missouri Death Penalty Case

JANUARY 31, 2006 - Posted at 2:58 p.m. CST

ST. LOUIS, MO - A federal judge in Kansas City is expected to hear evidence through today on the constitutionality of Missouri's method of execution.

An appeals panel in St. Louis assigned U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan to the death penalty case of Michael Taylor.

Taylor pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, forcible rape and other crimes in the March 1998 death of a Kansas City girl abducted while waiting for a school bus.

Taylor was scheduled to die by lethal injection this week, but his execution has been stayed until one minute before midnight Friday.

The appeals court yesterday instructed Gaitan to hold a hearing immediately and issue a decision by Wednesday.

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)