death penalty

Video: The Death Penalty In Missouri From All Sides

Mar 28, 2014

The use of the death penalty is on the rise in Missouri. I looked at the numbers recently, and the state has carried out more executions in the past five months than it has in the preceding eight years.

The Nine Network's Stay Tuned devoted a full hour to the topic: the death penalty's implementation, struggles, and of course, the secrecy surrounding its use.

The show delved into the issue from all sides:

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

With the recent run of executions in Missouri, it seemed apropos to review some of the arguments for and against the controversial subject of capital punishment. In two separate interviews, St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh did just that.

Missouri Executes Inmate, Third This Year

Mar 26, 2014

At 12:01 Wednesday morning, Missouri executed inmate Jeffrey Ferguson, marking the state's fifth execution in as many months.

Ferguson was put to death for the brutal murder and rape of a 17-year-old St. Charles County girl. The crime occurred in 1989, and the victim’s father, Jim Hall, said the punishment was long overdue.

“It’s been 25 years of pins and needles," Hall said. "Every time the appeal went up, you waited to find out what happened. That’s exactly where we’ve been. But last month, he had an [execution] date and felt some of the fear that my daughter felt.”

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

On Wednesday, Missouri is scheduled to carry out another execution. Although it will be the state's fifth execution in as many months, there are still numerous unknowns. Here's what we know and don't know about the upcoming execution.

Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Sunday was the start of "Sunshine Week," a time to celebrate the idea of open government and open records. But in Missouri, you might want to hold off on popping the champagne.

Missouri's sunshine law, which allows the public to ask government officials for things like emails, documents and other records, doesn't have much teeth.

How Missouri Got Ahold Of Its Backup Execution Drug

Mar 5, 2014
via Wikimedia Commons

When Missouri's execution drug supplier backed out after facing a lawsuit, the state found another pharmacy willing to sell it pentobarbital. But if that proved impossible, Missouri also had another option: It could use its controversial backup drug, midazolam.

UPI/Mo.Dept. of Corrections

Wednesday's execution of Michael Taylor marked the state's fourth in as many months - a dramatic uptick from recent years.

The state put Taylor to death for abducting, raping and killing a 15-year-old girl in 1989. Gov. Jay Nixon called the crime "wanton" and "heinous" in a statement denying clemency and said the death penalty was the appropriate punishment.

Taylor was the first Missouri inmate to be executed with a drug made by the state's new (and secret) compounding pharmacy. The previous one bowed out after facing a lawsuit once its identity got out.

Steakpinball | Flickr

Federal judges have ruled that Wednesday's execution may proceed.

District Judge Beth Phillips denied Missouri inmate Michael Taylor's requests for stays of execution early Monday morning. Her ruling was appealed to a panel of 8th Circuit judges, who affirmed her decision.

Taylor asked for his execution to be delayed for three reasons.

1. Missouri changed its drug supplier at the last minute.

Missouri Has A New Execution Drug Supplier

Feb 19, 2014
via Flickr/Nottingham Vet School

Although the state's previous drug supplier says it will not supply for the next execution, Missouri says it's found another willing pharmacy.

On Monday, the Apothecary Shoppe in Oklahoma reached a settlement with an inmate who had sued the pharmacy. Although the terms were confidential, the pharmacy agreed to not sell to Missouri for its upcoming execution.

In a court filing Wednesday evening, the state said inmate Michael Taylor was trying to cut off the supply of the state's execution drug.

Steakpinball | Flickr

Missouri's recent executions have sparked controversy lately -- not just for the secrecy and the source of the execution drug but also for the state's speed in carrying them out.

The Department of Corrections has carried out three executions in as many months. In all those cases, the inmate still had appeals pending at the time the state executed him.

via Google Maps

After a lawsuit filed by a death-row inmate, the Apothecary Shoppe in Oklahoma has agreed to not sell to Missouri for its upcoming execution.

Last week, a federal judge ordered the pharmacy to hold off on selling the drug to Missouri until further review. Before that could take place, however, the pharmacy and the inmate came to an agreement.

via Google Maps

Update: Governor says the state is prepared to proceed regardless.

Update: Pharmacy hopes documents will be secret

A federal judge has ordered an Oklahoma-based pharmacy not to sell the Missouri Department of Corrections its execution drug, at least until a hearing scheduled for next week.

A Missouri inmate scheduled to be executed Feb. 26 sued the pharmacy, hoping to stop the supply of the drug that would soon be injected into him.

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Despite the controversy over how Missouri has carried out its past three executions, a state House hearing on Monday revealed little that hasn't already been reported:

via Flickr/Nottingham Vet School

An Oklahoma compounding pharmacy has supplied Missouri with the drug it's used three times to execute inmates, despite the fact that the pharmacy isn't licensed here.

Now the Apothecary Shoppe is attempting to become licensed in Missouri.

According to records obtained by St. Louis Public Radio, the Oklahoma Board of Pharmacy received a letter from the Apothecary Shoppe on Jan. 13, when the pharmacy said it was planning on registering in both Missouri and Texas.

via Flickr/Nottingham Vet School

Chris McDaniel this week continued his string of significant reports on Missouri’s execution procedure. With painstaking work over several months, Chris and Veronique LaCapra have managed to develop a clear picture of a procedure that officials would rather keep secret. Among the key points they have reported:

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

Thank you for joining us for the live chat, which has now concluded. The full archive of the chat is below.

The controversy surrounding the drug now used for executions in Missouri is not confined to the Show Me state. Louisiana is wrangling with a similar situation.

via Flickr/katieharbath

Updated at 1:41 a.m., Thurs., Jan. 30

Missouri inmate Herbert Smulls was put to death late Wednesday night after the U.S. Supreme Court removed two stays. He was pronounced dead at 10:20 p.m.

It was the state's third execution in as many months. The pace of one a month is a sharp uptick from recent years past, when the state has had problems getting a hold of execution drugs.

Steakpinball | Flickr

On Monday evening, a federal judge denied Missouri inmate Herbert Smulls' request to halt his execution. On Tuesday evening, Gov. Jay Nixon denied his request for clemency.

Barring some unforeseen change, he will be put to death early Wednesday morning.

Smulls will be injected with a drug made by the Apothecary Shoppe in Oklahoma, which isn't licensed to sell in Missouri. The state has argued the drug is safe, however, by pointing to a report by a testing laboratory.

Lombardi: Flickr/Mo. Dept. of Public Safety Koster: via Chris Koster campaign ad Nixon: UPI/Bill Greenblatt, Capitol: St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon.

For the death penalty to be carried out in Missouri, it requires three agencies in particular to work in sync. The Department of Corrections performs the executions. The governor appoints the head of the Department of Corrections and can offer clemency to death row inmates. The attorney general defends the state when the execution method is challenged.

Each agency has found itself in the spotlight recently as Missouri's execution procedure has come under scrutiny. 

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

Late Friday night, a group of federal judges found that the compounding pharmacy making Missouri's execution drug can remain secret, but new emails point to one pharmacy as the likely supplier.