Death Penalty | St. Louis Public Radio

Death Penalty

Missouri Dept. of Corrections

Updated March 21, 5:55 p.m. – Russell Bucklew's scheduled execution has been called off.

In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay Tuesday evening, based on Bucklew's assertion that Missouri's lethal injection protocol would cause bleeding and suffocation due to a medical condition he suffers.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A federal appeals court has OK'd the execution of a Missouri man who suffers from a medical condition he says would make the lethal injection unconstitutionally painful.

Russell Bucklew, 49, was sentenced to death in 1996 for shooting and killing a romantic rival, and kidnapping and raping his ex-girlfriend. His execution is set for March 20.

Wayne Pratt | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis-based Centene Corporation found itself in a precarious situation this week when a BuzzFeed News investigation uncovered that a troubled compounding pharmacy the company now owns sold drugs used in executions to the state of Missouri.

Eastern Reception Diagnostic and Corrections Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri.
File photo | Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Feb. 21 with St. Louis on the Air conversation with reporter Chris McDaniel

Original story from Feb. 20 — A BuzzFeed News investigation has found that a St. Louis-area compounding pharmacy with a troubled safety history has provided execution drugs to the state of Missouri for the last four years.

Sources told BuzzFeed News reporter Chris McDaniel that Foundation Care, based in Earth City, supplied the drugs for 17 executions since February 2014. Foundation Care denied its participation in executions to McDaniel, and did not respond to requests for comment from St. Louis Public Radio.

Reginald Clemons, pictured here during a 2012, court hearing, has pleaded guilty to the 1991 rape and murder of Julie and Robin Kerry.
St. Louis Post Dispatch | Pool photo

Updated Dec. 18 at 5:10 p.m. with comments from attorneys for Clemons and former prosecutor Jennifer Joyce — A St. Louis man has admitted that he played a part in the 1991 rape and murder of two sisters on the Chain of Rocks Bridge.

Reginald Clemons pleaded guilty on Monday to robbery, two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of rape for the deaths of Julie and Robin Kerry. He will spend the rest of his life in prison. Prosecutors originally sought the death penalty.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Supreme Court has set March 20, 2018, as the execution date for a Cape Girardeau man who shot and killed a romantic rival in 1996.

Russell Bucklew, 49, had previously been scheduled to die in 2014. But days before the execution date, he sued in federal court, arguing that he has a medical condition making lethal injection cruel and unusual punishment. The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution so the case could heard through the legal system.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

A few weeks after staying the execution of Marcellus Williams, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens named five retired judges Tuesday to the board of inquiry that’ll look at new DNA evidence.

Three of the five are from the St. Louis area: former state Appeals Court Judge Booker Shaw, former Circuit Judge Michael David and former U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson. Shaw will chair the panel, according to a news release from Greitens’ office.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:15 p.m. with McCulloch statement — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens cited new DNA evidence in postponing Tuesday’s scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams.

Greitens also will appoint a five-member board of inquiry that will include retired Missouri judges. That hasn’t happened since 1997, according to Greitens spokesman Parker Briden.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 21 with governor's office declining comment — A nonprofit that seeks to overturn wrongful convictions has asked Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens to put Tuesday’s scheduled execution on hold.

The Midwest Innocence Project said new DNA evidence presented last week shows Marcellus Williams didn’t kill former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in 1998.

An illustration of Missouri death-row inmate Marcellus Williams.
Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri will use two of its 34 vials of the sedative pentobarbital on Tuesday when it executes Marcellus Williams, who was convicted in the 1998 killing of Felicia Gayle, a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter.

The state has enough pentobarbital for 17 executions, Williams’ included, according to a document obtained by St. Louis Public Radio. No one except the state of Missouri knows where the stockpile comes from, despite lawsuits from inmates and media outlets.

Marcellus Williams' execution was postponed in August.
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated at 5 p.m. with comment from Williams' lawyer, governor's office — The Missouri Supreme Court will not stop next week's scheduled execution of Marcellus Williams, it said Tuesday. 

Missouri corrections officials are not required to disclose the identities of the pharmacists who supply the state’s lethal execution drugs, an appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Reversing a lower court judge who had ordered the Department of Corrections to reveal their names, the Missouri Court of Appeals found that the DOC did not violate the state’s Sunshine Law by refusing to provide them.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated Jan. 31, 9:34 p.m. - The state of Missouri has carried out its first execution since May of 2016.

According to a statement from the Department of Corrections, Mark Christeson's lethal injection began at 6:57 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m.

The Chain of Rocks bridge
Chris Yunker | Flickr

Updated at 12:00 p.m. with comments from Clemons' supporters. — Missouri's attorney general will be taking over the retrials of Reginald Clemons.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Rex Burlison granted the request of circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce late Thursday evening, agreeing that the turnover that happens after an election had left her office understaffed and unable to prosecute the case.

Paul Wieland
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies are pleased to welcome back state Sen. Paul Wieland to the program.

The Republican from Imperial was previously a guest on the show when he was running against Democrat Jeff Roorda for the 22nd District Senate seat. Wieland won the so-called “Battle For JeffCo” by a sizable margin, a victory that expanded the Republican Senate majority.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Ernest Lee Johnson came within minutes of being executed last November when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay.

He challenged Missouri's use of pentobarbital, saying it could cause severe pain because he still has a brain tumor, even though most of it was removed during surgery eight years ago.

A legal challenge to Missouri’s execution protocol brought by four taxpayers has been rejected by the Missouri Court of Appeals.

In a decision Tuesday, the appeals court upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the taxpayers’ claims just days after they filed their lawsuit.

The lawsuit sought to halt the scheduled execution by lethal injection of convicted murderer David Zink. The execution went ahead as scheduled, on July 14, 2015.

Missouri Dept. of Corrections

Updated 11:15 p.m. - Missouri has carried out its first execution of the year.

Earl Forrest was put to death by lethal injection at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. The execution began at 7:10 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m., according to a brief statement from the Missouri Department of Corrections.

The Missouri Department of Corrections purposely violated the state’s Sunshine Law when it refused to turn over records revealing the suppliers of lethal injection drugs for executions, a state court judge ruled late Monday.

Cole County Circuit Judge Jon E. Beetem’s decision came in three parallel cases, including one brought by five news organizations: The Kansas City Star, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Springfield News-Leader, The Guardian and the Associated Press.

Wikimedia Commons

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death raises many issues. Among them are the possibility of 4-4 decisions until the vacancy is filled and the likelihood of President Obama’s appointment of a successor to get Senate confirmation.

On Monday’s monthly Legal Roundtable a panel of legal experts joined “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh to discuss this and other issues.

The guests were:

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