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Government, Politics & Issues

Nixon rejects clemency plea from murderer facing execution

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Feb. 8, 2011 - Late Monday afternoon, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced that he had rejected a petition for clemency from Martin Link, who is slated to be executed early Wednesday for the 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of an 11-year-old St. Louis girl, Elissa Self-Braun.

Link still has two other appeals pending, one before a federal judge and the other before the state Supreme Court. Both challenge the legality of the state's process for conducting executions by lethal injection.

UPDATE: Attorney General Chris Koster's office submitted its arguments late Monday with the state's highest court, in opposition to Link's request for a stay of execution.

FURTHER UPDATE: The state Supreme Court rejected Link's clemency request Tuesday afternoon.

Less than a month ago, Nixon had commuted the sentence of another convicted murderer, Richard Clay, with the governor later offering limited details as to the "number of factors" that prompted him to spare Clay.

But Monday, the governor issued a detailed statement explaining why he was not granting Link's appeal. Nixon cited the facts of the case -- and the 11-year-old victim:

"Earlier today, I received from my counsel a final briefing on the petition for clemency from Martin Link, which has been reviewed in detail. After careful deliberation, I have denied this petition.

"As governor, this is a power and a process I do not take lightly, particularly in capital punishment cases. Each instance involves a very specific set of facts, which must be considered on its own.

"Twenty years ago, the promising young life of Elissa Self-Braun was brutally taken through an extreme act of violence. The facts and the evidence supporting the prosecution and conviction of Martin Link for kidnapping, rape and first-degree murder were, and remain, clear and unchanged.

"Martin Link's violent crimes affected numerous victims. As this case reaches its conclusion and the sentence is carried out, I ask that Missourians remember Elissa Self-Braun and keep her family, and the victims of his other crimes, in their thoughts and prayers."

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