Panel overturns stay of execution for Middleton

A three-judge federal appeals court panel has overturned a stay of execution for a condemned Missouri man, hours before he is scheduled to be put to death.

John Middleton is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing three people in rural northern Missouri out of fear that they would tell police about his drug dealing.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry ruled early Tuesday that there was enough question about Middleton's sanity that a hearing should determine if he is fit to be executed. Courts have established that executing the insane is unconstitutional.

Hours later, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the stay. Middleton's lawyers appealed that ruling. They've also appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, saying another man, not Middleton, was responsible for the 1995 crimes.