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Next to Die

(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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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/California Department of Corrections)

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

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.

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.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Two suits were filed Thursday in Jefferson City challenging Missouri officials for failing to disclose information about the drugs the state uses in lethal injections.

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.

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

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.

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. 

Despite possible or pending investigations into how the state carried out executions by the state auditor, the legislature, two state Boards of Pharmacy, the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. attorney’s office, the state of Missouri has shown no signs of holding off on next week's execution.

Lawyers representing inmate Herbert Smulls are hoping the courts will stay his execution for 60 days, so that some of these investigations can play out. Smulls is scheduled to be put to death on Jan. 29 for the 1991 shooting of Stephen and Florence Honickman.

Flickr |neil conway

Updated 1/14/14 4:43 pm with news of scheduled hearing and Speaker Tim Jones' response.

Several state lawmakers are calling for an investigation into how the Missouri Department of Corrections has carried out executions in the previous months.

Marshall Griffin, St. Louis Public Radio

Jefferson City, Mo. – More than a hundred people gathered at the State Capitol today to call on Missouri lawmakers to place a moratorium on executions of Death Row inmates.

Among those at the rally was Emily Miller, whose mother, Tracy, was murdered in Kansas in 1978 by Anthony Joe Larette. He confessed to the crime a decade later and was eventually executed in Missouri for the 1980 murder of Mary Fleming.