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ST. LOUIS (AP) - Just hours away from his scheduled execution, Missouri death row inmate Allen Nicklasson is optimistic that his life will be spared.

Nicklasson is scheduled to die by injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for the 1994 murder of Richard Drummond, a businessman killed by Nicklasson and two other men after Drummond stopped to offer assistance when Nicklasson's car stalled on Interstate 70 in mid-Missouri.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay on Monday, and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster appealed, seeking a hearing before the full appeals court. By mid-afternoon, no decision on the appeal had been made.

Nicklasson's attorney, Jennifer Herndon, says the 41-year-old inmate is in good spirits and happy, even as plans for the execution continue.

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