St. Louis Public Radio News
5:15 pm
Wed March 17, 2010

Anti- death penalty rally at Mo. Capitol

Jefferson City, Mo. – More than a hundred people gathered at the State Capitol today to call on Missouri lawmakers to place a moratorium on executions of Death Row inmates.

Among those at the rally was Emily Miller, whose mother, Tracy, was murdered in Kansas in 1978 by Anthony Joe Larette. He confessed to the crime a decade later and was eventually executed in Missouri for the 1980 murder of Mary Fleming.

Miller says despite the brutal crime against her mother, she doesn't think it was fair to execute Larette.

"Fair to me is him sitting for the rest of his natural life, facing with whatever conscience he had, and having the opportunity to create some sense of justice by confessing to other murders...that to me (would have been) fair," Miller said.

Other opponents said that there are no guarantees that innocent people are not being arrested, convicted and executed for murders they did not commit. Eric Zahnd with the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys disagrees.

"I would suggest that those who have received the death penalty have received it after extraordinary due process guarantees, and that the death penalty is the appropriate sanction in those very horrific crimes," Zahnd said.

A bill in the State House would place a moratorium on all executions in Missouri and commission a study into whether the death penalty is being applied fairly. The sponsor, State Representative Bill Deeken (R, Jefferson City), says the bill so far has not been scheduled for a hearing.