death penalty

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.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

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.

Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio

In a speech Thursday, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster expressed concern over the execution secrecy that his office has previously fought hard to defend. The Democrat is calling on the state to create a state-run laboratory to produce the lethal injection drugs itself.

Koster says the expanding secrecy surrounding Missouri’s lethal injection methods should "concern all of us deeply.”

The announcement comes at a time when there are few willing suppliers, which Koster admitted in his speech.

James Cridland via Flickr

Wednesday marked the fourth day of the Lyft hearing in downtown St. Louis. The Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC) sees the ride-sharing app as a taxi service, and wants Lyft to comply with existing regulations. But Lyft says it is a “friend with a car,” not a taxi. Who has the stronger legal argument?

U.S. Supreme Court Orders Missouri Halt Execution

May 20, 2014
California Department of Corrections

Updated 5/21/14 6:35 pm

Missouri had hoped to carry out the nation's first execution since Oklahoma botched one, but the U.S. Supreme Court has ordered the state to halt its plans.

The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to step in after the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals removed a stay that it originally put in place.

Russell Bucklew had been scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday. It would have been the state's seventh execution in as many months — equaling the number of executions the state has carried out in the preceding nine years.

Uncredited AP

Oklahoma, a state with numerous ties to the controversy over Missouri's lethal injection procedures, on Tuesday night botched what the state had hoped would be the first of two successful executions.

According to reports of witnesses, Clayton Lockett writhed in pain on the gurney after he awoke following a doctor's declaration that he was unconscious. He died of an apparent heart attack at 7:06 p.m., more than 40 minutes after the first drug was injected at 6:23 p.m.

Robert Patton, director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said Lockett's vein had collapsed.

Missouri Executes Sixth Inmate In Six Months

Apr 22, 2014
California Department of Corrections

William Rousan, 57, was put to death this morning for killing a couple, Grace and Charles Lewis, at a southeast Missouri farm in 1993.

It was the state's sixth execution in six months -- a dramatic uptick from years past. According to our examination, Missouri will set a record next month when it carries out seven straight months of executions.

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.

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