death penalty

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Mo. House approves test program that helps children visit moms in prison

Missouri House members are calling for a pilot project to help women in the state's prisons have more contact with their children.

Legislation approved by the House would require the Corrections and Social Services departments to start a two-year test program to provide transportation for children and a caretaker to visit their mothers in prison.

The measure was approved Thursday on a vote of 126-23 and now moves to the Senate.

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It may be easier to be sentenced to death in Missouri than in other states, according to a study released today and sponsored by the American Bar Association.

It finds that aggravating circumstances used by prosecutors are so broadly defined that virtually any homicide case in Missouri can qualify for the death penalty.  University of Missouri -- Columbia Law Professor Paul Litton is on the panel that conducted the study.  He says the state’s wide latitude on capital punishment goes against the recommendations of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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CVC: Rams do not accept dome proposal

According to a statement from the the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission released this morning, the St. Louis Rams have turned down the CVC's $124 million plan to overhaul the Edwards Jones Dome.

The CVC's plan included adding 1,500 new club seats, installing a massive 96 foot-long scoreboard over the center of the field and adding windows for more natural light.

The CVC says the team "will submit their own proposal to improve the Edward Jones Dome on or before May 1, 2012."

Missouri Attorney General's office

Koster wants U.S. Supreme Court to reject individual health insurance mandate

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants the U.S. Supreme Court to reject an individual health insurance mandate but uphold other parts of the federal health care law. Koster, a Democrat, said Tuesday his office filed a written argument in support of a lawsuit by Florida and other states.

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Legislation has been filed in the Missouri House that would abolish the death penalty.

If the bill becomes law, any pending executions in Missouri would be halted, and all inmates sentenced to death would be re-sentenced to life without probation or parole.  It’s sponsored by State Representative Penny Hubbard (D, St. Louis).  She says she doesn’t believe that capital punishment is an effective deterrent.

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.
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A federal judge has rejected a challenge by Missouri prison inmates to the state's execution procedure.

The inmates' lawsuit argued that Missouri does not get valid medical prescriptions for the drugs used to put prisoners to death.

The lawsuit cited the state's use of non-medical personnel to administer the chemicals intravenously.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey said the inmates' lawsuit failed to show actual harm to anyone.

Missouri's execution process has been the subject of legal wrangling for several years.

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Reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Amanda Vinicky used in this report.

Murderers convicted in Illinois will no longer be sentenced to death row as the state ban on capital punishment takes effect Friday.

It won't remain in place long if Republican Representative Dennis Reboletti of Elmhurst has his way.

Reboletti says he will try pass a law reinstating the death penalty.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Updated 1:49 p.m. with sentence decision:

Christopher Coleman has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

Original Story:

At 1 p.m. today, Circuit Judge Milton Wharton will decide the fate of Christopher Coleman, the Belleville News-Democrat reports.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed the murder conviction for Gregory Bowman, but reversed the sentence that put him on death row.

The court ruled today that St. Louis County jurors should not have heard about Bowman's two prior murder convictions during sentencing because those convictions were overturned.

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  • Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer says he is looking for around $500 million of savings in the state budget over the next several years. Missouri's Legislature is not in session this week because of its annual spring break. But Mayer says he nonetheless will be meeting with Senate budget-writing staff to try to identify changes that can save the state money. Mayer is a former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. He gave little indication of what he is looking to cut. But Mayer did note that a gubernatorial commission has identified potential savings by restructuring and paring back the state's tax credits. Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey says the chamber is expected to take up a package of tax credit changes when lawmakers return from their break.

  • University of Missouri curators head to Rolla to determine the qualifications for the system's next president. The two-day meeting beginning Monday at Missouri University of Science and Technology follows several statewide public forums by a 20-member advisory panel that will help curators choose the new president. Curators are looking to replace Gary Forsee, who retired in January to care for his ill wife. Former general counsel Steve Owens is the interim president but is not interested in the permanent job. Campus leaders expect the presidential search to last most of this year. Curators will craft a statement on the desired qualifications of the four-campus system's next leader based in part on public comments from the statewide meetings.

  • The state of Illinois' decision to eliminate the death penalty means about three dozen state employees will soon be out of work. The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports that State Appellate Defender Michael Pelletier began notifying about 37 employees in his office on Friday that their jobs are being eliminated. That's because Gov. Pat Quinn abolished the death penalty earlier this month and commuted the sentences of the 15 men on death row. Most of the employees being cut are lawyers who handled death penalty cases. The reduction will save about $4.7 million.

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