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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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