Death Penalty | St. Louis Public Radio

Death Penalty

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' execution was postponed in August.
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' execution was postponed in August.
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:

Execution Postponed After Supreme Court Intervention

Oct 28, 2014

Just hours before it was scheduled to begin, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed Missouri inmate Mark Christeson's execution. He was set to be put to death for killing a southern Missouri woman and her two children in 1998.

The Supreme Court granted a temporary stay over concerns that Christeson's case had no federal review. Justices will consider whether there should be oral arguments in the case.

If the high court were to remove its stay, the Missouri Supreme Court would have to set a new execution date. December would be the earliest date that it could be set.

James Cridland via Flickr

Legal questions surrounding Michael Brown’s death and events in Ferguson again dominated the conversation among our legal roundtable.

Justice Department Investigations

The Justice Department has three roles in Ferguson, said William Freivogel, director of the school of journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. First: A criminal investigation, independent of the state’s investigation.

When Missouri Has Injected Midazolam

Sep 10, 2014
via Wikimedia Commons

Missouri prison officials said under oath that they would not use midazolam in executions. But a St. Louis Public Radio investigation revealed last week that the state has used it in nine executions since 2013.

No state has carried out more executions than Missouri this year. Early this morning, Missouri carried out its eighth execution of 2014.

Earl Ringo was put to death for killing two people during a robbery that went bad in Columbia.

"Ringo was convicted of the murders of Dennis Poyser and Joanna Baysinger during the robbery of a restaurant in Columbia," Gov. Jay Nixon said in a statement denying clemency. "Both were shot to death brutally, without mercy. The evidence that was presented at trial left no doubt about Ringo’s guilt."

(via Flickr/Stephen M. Scott)

(Updated at 2:50 p.m., Tues., Sept. 9.) 

Even as the state prepares for another execution at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, two separate cases charge that the state's lethal injection method amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

On Tuesday morning, a federal appeals court heard arguments in two lawsuits brought by inmates on death row against the Department of Corrections, alleging the state's execution methods violate the Eighth Amendment, the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

via Wikimedia Commons

(Updated at 10:01 a.m., Sat., Sept. 6 with the attorney general's response)

Lawyers representing inmate Earl Ringo are asking a federal judge to halt his upcoming execution, citing new information uncovered in a St. Louis Public Radio investigation.

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

(Updated at 10:51 am, Thurs., Sept. 4 with further response from the Department of Corrections)

Behaving With Secrecy, Another State Botches Execution

Jul 24, 2014
(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

For the fourth time this year, an inmate's lethal injection did not go as planned. Last night, it was Arizona, but the state has company.

An Ohio inmate took 25 minutes to die in January. In Oklahoma, there were two apparent botches: In one,  an inmate said, "I feel my whole body burning," and in another, the prisoner took more than 40 minutes to die.

But Arizona's execution took even longer. Joseph Wood's execution began at 1:52 p.m., and he died nearly two hours later at 3:49 p.m.

Missouri Department of Corrections

Late Wednesday, Missouri executed John Middleton, 54, after courts debated whether he was mentally competent as well as claims that he was actually innocent.

According to the Department of Corrections, the execution began at 6:58 p.m. and ended at 7:06 p.m.

(Courtesy of Investigative Reporters And Editors)

Missouri is one of several states that are buying their execution drugs in secret. This week, the issue is getting some national attention.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been recognized as one of the “most secretive publicly funded agencies or people in the United States.” He’s “won” the Golden Padlock Award from Investigative Reporters and Editors. (He was also invited to accept the award in person, but declined).

Missouri carried out another execution early Wednesday. It was the state's fifth this year, and the nation's second since Oklahoma botched an execution in April.

Inmate John Winfield was put to death for murdering two people —  Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy — in St. Louis County in 1996.

According to a state official, Winfield was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m.

The execution took place in spite of concerns over the state's secret drug supplier, as well as the state's likely  intimidation of a correctional officer that supported clemency for the inmate.

A federal judge has stayed Missouri's upcoming execution over concerns that the Department of Corrections obstructed the clemency process.

Inmate John Winfield was scheduled to be put to death on June 18 for killing two people in St. Louis County. Before an execution can occur in Missouri, the governor must first make a decision on clemency -- whether or not the inmate's life should be spared.

Monday's "St. Louis on the Air" will cover the pressing legal issues of the day.
s_falkow | Flickr

On Friday, a Cole County judge denied a death row inmate's request to order the state to turn over records on the lethal drugs that will be injected into him.

Inmate John Winfield attempted to speed up the legal process with a preliminary injunction because his execution is scheduled for June 18.

His lawyer, Joe Luby, argued that the Missouri Department of Corrections is violating the sunshine law by keeping secret the identity of the supplier of the execution drug.

Judge Hears Arguments Over Missouri Execution Secrecy

Jun 4, 2014
(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

In a court hearing Wednesday, the Missouri attorney general's office defended the secrecy that just last week Attorney General Chris Koster expressed concerns over.

Inmate John Winfield is scheduled to be executed on June 18 for murdering two people in St. Louis County in 1996. His lawyer, Joe Luby, argued in the Cole County 19th Judicial Circuit Court that the Missouri Department of Corrections is violating the sunshine law by keeping secret the identity of the supplier of the execution drug.

(Joseph Leahy/St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says that his speech last Thursday to fellow lawyers, where he laid out the challenges facing Missouri and other states with the death penalty, had everything to do with policy, not politics.

“The purpose of the speech was to continue a serious public policy discussion regarding one aspect of perhaps the most profound act conducted by state government,”  Koster wrote in a statement Friday to St. Louis Public Radio.

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