Death Penalty

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:

Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

A bill that would have abolished Missouri's death penalty has unofficially become the first bill to die during the 2016 legislative session.

Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, is Senate Bill 816's sponsor. He told reporters he knows there aren't enough votes in the Senate to abolish the death penalty, but calls Monday's debate on the floor a victory in itself.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

A move to abolish the death penalty in the Show-Me State is getting a hearing before a Missouri Senate committee.

Senate Bill 816 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Weiland, R-Imperial. He told the committee on general laws that being a pro-life Republican should also include the end of life.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri lawmakers will try to make the most of a short week, which could include the next batch of ethics bills.

The shorter work week is due to the Martin Luther King holiday, as well as Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State Address Wednesday night.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Reginald Clemons may get a new trial.

In a 4-to-3 decision Tuesday, the Missouri Supreme Court tossed out both his conviction and death sentence in the 1991 rape and murders of sisters Julie and Robin Kerry on the Chain of Rocks Bridge in St. Louis. The sisters, who were 20 and 19, had brought a visiting cousin to the bridge to show him a poem they had written. The cousin was the only one who survived being pushed from the bridge into the Mississippi River.

Ernest Johnson
Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri death row inmate who came within hours of being executed earlier this month will have his appeal heard by a three-judge panel.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay on Nov. 3 to Ernest Lee Johnson, based on whether a lower court properly handled his complaint about the state's execution drug. The order from the high court arrived around 40 minutes into the 24-hour execution window.

Ernest Johnson
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated 8:05 p.m. Nov. 3 with court action - The U.S. Supreme Court has hit pause on Tuesday night's scheduled execution of Ernest Lee Johnson.

The high court issued a stay, pending the outcome of one of his appeals. It centers on claims that the state's execution drug pentobarbital could cause Johnson to experience violent seizures, due to part of his brain being removed in 2008 during surgery to remove a tumor.

Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri death row inmate is seeking to have one of his murder convictions tossed out.

Richard Davis was sentenced to death after being found guilty of the 2006 murder, kidnapping and rape of Marsha Spicer of Independence, which he committed along with his then-girlfriend Dena Riley. Riley was sentenced to life without parole in exchange for pleading guilty.

Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri death row inmate scheduled for execution next week has been spared, as Gov. Jay Nixon has commuted his sentence to life without parole.

Kimber Edwards was sentenced to death for the 2000 murder of his ex-girlfriend Kimberly Cantrell in St. Louis County.

California Department of Corrections

Is the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri suing the right person in its effort to crack the veil of secrecy around executions in the state?

That question is in the hands of a three-judge panel of the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, following oral arguments Tuesday in St. Louis.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated 9/1/2015, 10:13 p.m. -- Roderick Nunley has become the sixth death row inmate executed in Missouri this year.

He was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre for the 1989 murder of 15-year-old Ann Harrison.

David Zink
Missouri Department of Corrections

Updated 10:15 p.m. -- David Zink has been executed by lethal injection, becoming the fifth convicted killer put to death in Missouri this year and the 17th since the state resumed lethal injections in November 2013.

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

Updated 9 a.m. Tuesday with news of Supreme Court's action - The U.S. Supreme Court will not hear a challenge by Missouri death row inmates to the state’s execution protocol.

The high court on Monday denied a request from the inmate's attorneys to consider the case. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled that in order to win their claims that Missouri's lethal injection cocktail amounted to cruel and unusual punishment, inmates had to show that a viable alternative was available.

U.S. Supreme Court
supremecourt.gov

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the use of midazolam as part of the execution protocol in Oklahoma. The same drug had been used — and challenged — in Missouri.  In the execution of Richard Strong earlier this month, midazolam was used as a sedative before pentobarbital was used to carry out the execution.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated 6/10/2015, 12:58 a.m. -- Richard Strong has been executed, less than an hour after Gov. Jay Nixon denied a clemency request and the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay.

Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O'Connell says that Strong's execution via lethal injection began at 6:49 p.m. and that he was pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m.  The execution took place at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre.

The Missouri Supreme Court has set a July 14 execution date for David Zink for the 2001 kidnapping, rape and murder of a woman
Courtesy of the Missouri Department of Corrections

The state of Missouri has scheduled the execution of another inmate.

David Zink is set to be put to death by lethal injection on July 14. He was convicted in 2004 of raping and murdering a woman he had kidnapped after rear-ending her car on a highway outside of Springfield, Mo. 

Missouri Department of Corrections

(Updated 4/15/2015, 1:12 a.m.) Missouri has carried out its third execution of the year.

Andre Cole died by lethal injection at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre. The execution began at 10:15 p.m., and he was pronounced dead at 10:24 p.m.

A group of activists say Andre Cole didn't receive a fair trial nor a proper defense. They're asking Gov. Nixon to halt Cole's execution Tuesday.
Courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

A group of activists is calling on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to put a hold on Tuesday's execution of a black man they say was unfairly convicted by an all-white jury.

In addition, a letter they sent to Nixon asks him to establish a special board of inquiry to "investigate whether the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office has intentionally and systematically excluded African Americans from jury service in capital cases." 

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

After a more than three-hour delay while the U.S. Supreme Court considered his appeal, Missouri death row inmate Cecil Clayton was executed Tuesday night.

Mo. Dept. of Corrections

Updated at 12:17 a.m., Wed., Feb. 11 -- Walter Storey's execution was carried out at 12:01 a.m. by lethal injection, according to a brief statement from the Missouri Department of Corrections.  His time of death is listed as 12:10 a.m.

via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court announced Friday that it will hear a challenge to Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol. The case could have direct impact on Missouri in at least two ways.

First, it raises questions about the use of midazolam. Oklahoma uses the drug as the first step in its execution procedure. Missouri also has administered midazolam in large doses to inmates prior to execution, though the state has claimed the drug is not part of the execution procedure.

Missouri Used Midazolam In Its Most Recent Execution

Jan 22, 2015
via Wikimedia Commons

Missouri used a considerable amount of sedatives on the last inmate it executed before it injected its lethal drug, records obtained by St. Louis Public Radio show. Chemical logs show the state used the controversial drug midazolam for the first time since its use was revealed months ago.

Marcellus Williams is set to die on January 28.
(Missouri Department of Corrections)

On Thursday, The Missouri Supreme Court withdrew an execution warrant and granted a stay for a man who was scheduled to be put to death next week. The court would give no indication why it had done so.

Marcellus Williams was scheduled to be executed Jan. 28 for the 1998 robbery and murder of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Felicia Gayle in her University City home.

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

A Cole County judge is considering whether the state of Missouri needs to make more information public about the way it performs executions.

U.S. Supreme Court
supremecourt.gov

The U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement that it will take up same-sex marriage this term has many people searching for clues to how the court’s justices may rule.

The high court will decide whether same-sex couples have a right to marry under the constitution. Specifically, the court will hear cases that ask it to overturn bans in four states. The cases will be argued in April; a decision is expected in June.

Marcellus Williams is set to die on January 28.
(Missouri Department of Corrections)

Updated 5:00 pm Wednesday, January 14

In a six-page opinion issued on Wednesday, judge Rodney Sippel dismissed Williams' petition, calling the complaint "frivolous."

Williams, Sippel wrote, had plenty of opportunity at both the state and federal levels to challenge the absence of DNA testing. His failure to do so is the reason that he can't ask for the DNA to be tested now.

Read Sippel's order here.

Missouri Sets Execution Record With 10 In One Year

Dec 9, 2014

Early Wednesday morning, Missouri set a record for its number of executions in a year.

Paul Goodwin was the 10th man executed, more than any other year since the death penalty was reinstated in the state.

Goodwin was put to death for sexually assaulting Joan Crotts, a 63-year-old widow, and then killing her with a hammer in 1998 in St. Louis County.

In denying clemency, Gov. Jay Nixon referred to the crime as "brutal" and "senseless."

Missouri Executes Leon Taylor, 9th Inmate This Year

Nov 19, 2014

Early Wednesday morning, Missouri executed its 9th man this year.

In 1994, Leon Taylor killed 53-year-old Robert Newton, a clerk, as part of a gas station robbery.  Taylor then pointed the gun at Newton's 8-year-old daughter, who had just seen her stepfather killed, but the gun didn't fire.

In denying clemency, Nixon wrote:

Pages