missouri

In the Execution Business, Missouri Is Surging


Defense lawyers call it a crisis; the state says it’s just doing its job.
Since Texas carried out the country’s 1st lethal injection in 1982, the state has performed far more executions than any other state. To date, 528 men and women have been put to death in Texas, more than the total in the next 8 states combined.
But viewed from a slightly different angle, Texas has lost its place as the epicenter of the American death penalty, at least for the moment.
Since November 2013, when Missouri began performing executions at a rate of almost 1 per month, the state has outstripped Texas in terms of the execution rate per capita. In 2014, both states executed 10 people, but Texas has more than 4 times the population of Missouri. This year, the difference is not quite as stark (Texas: 10, Missouri: 5) but Missouri still ranks number 1. The state that has become the center of so many conversations about criminal justice through the courts and cops of Ferguson is now the center of one more.
Why?
The politicians, judges and prosecutors who keep the system running at full steam simply say the death penalty is a good thing and the pace of executions is a sign that nothing is gumming up the pipes of justice. Defense attorneys are more eager to talk about the reasons for the current situation. They tend to use the word “crisis.”
The Drugs
The most important reason for the rise in Missouri’s rate of execution is also the most mysterious. As other states have dealt with a nationwide shortage in lethal-injection drugs by turning to new and experimental combinations – leading to grisly botched executions (Dennis McGuire in Ohio, Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, and Joseph Wood in Arizona) and lawsuits that have slowed down the pace of executions – Missouri has managed to get a steady supply of pentobarbital, a common execution drug.
Like their counterparts in all death-penalty states, Missouri officials are pushing in court to keep the source of their pentobarbital a secret. Texas has also exclusively used pentobarbital for executions in recent years, but has struggled to find a compounding pharmacy that will produce it. In Missouri, corrections officials had also struggled, but now have managed to stockpile the drug.
“We’re the only state in the union with no trouble getting pentobarbital,” says Cheryl Pilate, a Kansas City attorney who has represented death-row inmates. The pentobarbital made by small, generally unregulated compounding pharmacies – the choice in Texas – does not have a long shelf-life, leading Pilate and her colleagues to wonder whether Missouri officials are getting the drug from a veterinary supplier (the drug is often used to euthanize animals) or a manufacturer from overseas. Attorney General Chris Koster recently said in a court filing, quoted by BuzzFeed, that “Missouri uses pentobarbital as the lethal chemical in its execution process, but does not admit nor deny the chemical now used is compounded as opposed to manufactured.”
The Governor and the Attorney General
Attorney General Koster, as well as Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, are both Democrats and both outspoken supporters of the death penalty. Nixon himself was the attorney general before Koster, so both have overseen the state’s side in fighting the appeals of death-row inmates, pushing them along toward execution. Koster has suggested that the state set up a laboratory to make its own supply of lethal-injection drugs.
Nixon has the power to commute death sentences to life in prison, but he has done so once in his 6 1/2 years as governor, and he provided no explanation for why. Many political commentators have speculated that Nixon and Koster, as Democrats in a primarily conservative state – where the electoral votes went to Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election – use executions to establish their tough-on-crime bonafides. “As a Democrat in public office, you would lose a lot of votes by not being enthusiastically in support of the death penalty,” says Joseph Luby, an attorney with the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic in Kansas City.
Nixon and Koster’s support for the death penalty fits a historical pattern of death-penalty support among blue governors in red states. In the 1990s, Texas Governor Ann Richards never commuted a death sentence and Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton famously flew home from the presidential campaign trail to preside over an execution of a man missing part of his brain. (Nixon had his own similar case earlier this year.) At the same time, Republicans in states near Missouri – Governor John Kasich in Ohio and former Governor Mike Huckabee in Arkansas – have regularly granted clemency to death-row inmates.
Nixon’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the politics of the death penalty, while Koster’s press secretary, Nanci Gonder, replied that he “has consistently supported the death penalty for the most serious murder convictions” and “1 of the duties of the Attorney General is to ensure that legal punishments for violating Missouri’s criminal laws are carried out.”
The Courts
Sean O’Brien, a professor at University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, spent much of his career defending death-row inmates and recalled a case in which the judges at the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against the prosecution. In 2003, the court ruled in favor of a man who committed a murder before turning 18, a decision that was later ratified by the U.S. Supreme Court and became the basis for a nationwide ban on the execution of juveniles.
Missouri Supreme Court judges are appointed by the governor, and in 2013 Governor Nixon selected Judge Mary Russell to be chief justice, overseeing the setting of execution dates. Her court set up the 1-a-month schedule in November of that year. When she stepped down in July this year, she told several reporters that the pace of executions picked up because they had been on hold during the lethal-injection drug shortage. Once the state had the drugs, she said, “there were a number of people who had been backlogged whose appeals were exhausted.”
“It’s required by law that the Supreme Court shall set execution dates,” she added. “It’s not that we agree or disagree with the death penalty.”
The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which has final say over death cases in Missouri, rarely stops executions, according to O’Brien, the law professor. “We’ve got a situation where all 3” – the governor, attorney general, and supreme court – “are lickety-split gung-ho on this, and the federal courts aren’t stopping them.”
The Defense Bar
During a short phone interview last week, the Missouri capital-defense attorneys Cheryl Pilate and Lindsay Runnels used the words “crisis,” “disaster,” “horrific” and “overwhelming” as they described their “extremely small and embattled defense bar.” They see their cohort’s rushed work and missed deadlines and paltry resources as signs of broader problems with public defense in the state. Missouri was ranked 49th by the National Legal Aid & Defender Association in per-capita spending on indigent defense in 2009.
My colleague Ken Armstrong has chronicled the experience of one overburdened defense lawyer who dealt with the executions of 2 clients over 2 months at the end of 2013. In a March 2015 letter to the Missouri Supreme Court, members of the American Bar Association Death Penalty Assessment Team wrote, “The current pace of executions is preventing counsel for the condemned from performing competently.”
“You live in a perpetual state of tension,” Pilate said, “thinking your client could be next.”
This state of affairs may not last. A pending lawsuit over the secrecy of the lethal injection drugs might force the state to divulge its source, allowing for more litigation that could lead to a slow-down. The Missouri Supreme Court will soon have a new chief justice. A future Republican governor or attorney general could follow the lead of Kasich or Huckabee. The defense bar may get more help from national anti-death penalty groups now that the state is ground zero. For now, though, as the death penalty declines nationally, Missouri is headed in the other direction.
Source: themarshallproject.org, August 31, 2015

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPTADE AUGUST 29, 2015

Month State Inmate
August
13 TX Tracy Beatty – STAYED
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero (foreign national) STAYED
27 MS Richard Jordan (date requested by Atty. Gen.; not final) EXECUTION HALTED
27 PA Maurice Patterson – STAY LIKELY
28 PA Hector Morales- STAY LIKELY
September
1 MO Roderick Nunley EXECUTED 9:09 PM
2 TX Joe Garza STAYED
3 PA Herbert Blakeney- STAY LIKELY
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
29 TX Perry Williams
October
6 MO Kimber Edwards
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
3 TX Julius Murphy
10 TX
Gilmar Guevara
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED
18 TX Raphael Holiday

UPCOMING EXECUTIONS 2015, UPDATE


UPDATE JULY 10, 205


Month State Inmate
July
14 MO David Zink EXECUTED 7.41 PM
15 OH Alva Cambell, Jr. – STAYED*
15 OH Warren K. Henness – STAYED
16 TX Clifton Williams  STAYED
August
12 TX Daniel Lopez  executed
18 TN David Miller – STAYED
26 TX Bernardo Tercero
September
2 TX Joe Garza
16 OK Richard Glossip
17 OH Angelo Fears – STAYED*
17 OH William Montgomery – STAYED^
October
6 TN Abu-Ali Abdur’Rahman – STAYED
6 TX Juan Garcia
7 OK Benjamin Cole
11 TX Gilmar Guevara
14 TX Licho Escamilla
28 OK John Grant
28 TX Christopher Wilkins
November
17 OH Cleveland R. Jackson – STAYED*
17 OH Robert Van Hook – STAYED^
17 TN Nicholas Sutton – STAYED

Missouri: July 14, scheduled execution of David Zink EXECUTED 7:41 PM


Zinks last meal was a cheeseburger, french fries, cheesecake and a soft drink, official said.

In a final statement, Zink said:

“I can’t imagine the pain and anguish one experiences when they learn that someone has killed a loved one, and I offer my sincerest apology to Amanda Morton’s family and friends for my actions. I hope my execution brings them the peace and satisfaction they seek.

I also have to apologize to the second set of victims, my family and friends, that had the unfortunate circumstance of developing emotions which will now cause them pain and suffering upon my execution. I kept my promise to fight this case for their benefit, and although unsuccessful to prevent the execution, we have been successful in exposing some serious flaws that offend the basic concept of the American Justice System.

For those who remain on death row, understand that everyone is going to die. Statistically speaking, we have a much easier death than most, so I encourage you to embrace it and celebrate our true liberation before society figures it out and condemns us to life without parole and we too will die a lingering death.”

7:50 p.m.

A Missouri inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree has been executed.

Fifty-five-year-old David Zink was put to death by injection Tuesday at a state prison south of St. Louis after the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Nixon declined to intervene.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence.

Corrections Department spokesman Mike O’Connell said Zink was pronounced dead at 7:41 p.m.

———

7 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court is refusing to block the scheduled execution of a Missouri inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree.

The nation’s high court on Tuesday declined 55-year-old David Zink’s request to intervene. His lethal injection is set for later Tuesday. Gov. Jay Nixon also denied Zink’s request for clemency.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence.

———

6:50 p.m.

Missouri’s governor has cleared the way for the scheduled execution of an inmate who killed a 19-year-old woman in 2001 after sexually attacking her and tying her to a cemetery tree.

Gov. Jay Nixon on Tuesday denied 55-year-old David Zink’s request for clemency and refused to block the execution scheduled for later Tuesday at a prison south of St. Louis.

Zink was a paroled sex offender in 2001 when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her home. He told investigators he feared his drunken fender-bender could violate his parole and send him back to prison.

Jurors convicted Zink in 2004 and recommended a death sentence. Nixon called the acts “brutal and horrifying” and said his denial of clemency upholds the jury’s decision.

———

11:30 a.m.

A Missouri inmate’s hopes of avoiding a scheduled execution for a 2001 killing are now in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court and the governor.

A three-judge panel with the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday declined without comment David Zink’s claims that the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The St. Louis-based court on Monday rejected Zink’s challenge of the drug process used in lethal injections.

The nation’s high court is still weighing Zink’s case, and Gov. Jay Nixon is reviewing Zink’s clemency request.

Zink is scheduled to be put to death at 6 p.m. Tuesday for the killing of a 19-year-old Amanda Morton.

12:01 a.m.

A Missouri inmate is hoping federal appellate courts or the state’s governor spare him from his scheduled execution for the 2001 killing of a 19-year-old woman he abducted.

Fifty-five-year-old David Zink has 11th-hour appeals with the St. Louis-based 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, and a clemency request also was in Gov. Jay Nixon’s hands.

The Missouri Supreme Court declined to intervene Monday.

Zink was out on parole after serving 20 years in Texas on rape, abduction and escape charges when he abducted Amanda Morton after hitting her car from behind on a freeway ramp a mile from her Strafford home.

Zink later tied her to a cemetery tree in western Missouri, then snapped her neck before severing her spinal cord.

“The horror and fear 19-year-old Amanda Morton must have felt after being kidnapped by David Zink that July night is truly unimaginable,” Attorney General Chris Koster made the following statement following the execution. “David Zink callously took a young woman’s life, and it is fitting he pay by losing his own.”

Jurors in western Missouri’s St. Clair County deliberated 90 minutes in 2004 before convicting Zink and recommending a death sentence for the killing of Amanda Morton. Authorities said Zink abducted her after hitting her car from behind on an Interstate 44 exit ramp a mile from her Strafford home. Morton was driving home after visiting a friend.

Police found Morton’s Chevrolet Cavalier abandoned on the ramp with the keys in the ignition, the engine running and the headlights and hazard lights on. Her purse, credit card and medication were found inside the vehicle.

Just months before the slaying, Zink had been released from a Texas prison after serving 20 years on rape, abduction and escape charges. Fearing that his drunken fender-bender with Morton could violate his parole and send him back to prison, Zink initially abducted Morton, taking her to a motel. That site’s manager later saw a televised news report about Morton’s disappearance, recognized her as the woman who had checked in with Zink, and gave investigators Zink’s name and license plate number from motel registration.

Zink, after being arrested at his parents’ home, led authorities to Morton’s buried body in a cemetery, confessing matter-of-factly and at times laughing on videotape that he had tied her to a tree there and told her to look up. When the bewildered Morton begrudgingly glanced skyward, Zink said, he snapped her neck.

Worried that Morton might regain consciousness, Zink admitted, he used a knife to sever her spinal cord at the neck and covered her body with leaves before retrieving from his home a shovel he used to bury her.

“If I think that you’re going to pose a threat to my freedom, it is set in my mind I want to eliminate you,” Zink says in his videotaped confession.

An autopsy later showed that Morton had eight broken ribs and 50 to 100 blunt-force injuries. Morton also had been sexually assaulted, with DNA evidence linked to Zink found on her body.

Missouri has executed five men this year and 16 since November 2013. Only Texas has executed more inmates over that span

Missouri – Richard Strong Execution – June 9, 2015


June 10,2015

Missouri murderer Richard Strong was executed by lethal injection Tuesday night after authorities turned aside a last-minute plea from his daughter, who was only months old when Strong killed her mother and 2-year-old half-sister.

Strong, 47, was pronounced dead at 6:58 p.m. at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri, according to the state Department of Corrections.

He ate a last meal of fried chicken, a cheeseburger and donuts, and asked forgiveness, according to the department.

His last words were: “Jehovah-jireh, you’re my provider. Your grace is sufficient for me. Forgive me for my sin. Abba-Abba, take my soul in your hands.”

Gov. Jay Nixon focused on Strong’s victims in a statement, acknowledging “there have been many lives deeply affected by these crimes.”

Petrina Thomas, whose niece was the toddler Strong killed, witnessed the execution and said in a statement she read to reporters that her family “was so glad that it is finally over.” (Read her full statement below.)

The execution was carried out after an unsuccessful plea for clemency from his daughter, who was a baby in 2000 when Strong murdered her mother and her half-sister. Last-minute appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court and to Nixon also failed.

Strong was sentenced to death in 2003 for fatally stabbing his 23-year-old girlfriend, Eva Washington, and her daughter from a previous relationship, Zandrea Thomas, in their suburban St. Louis apartment. He left Alyshia Strong, his baby with Washington, unharmed.

Alyshia Strong, now 14, said she has forgiven her father and pleaded for clemency in the days before his execution.

“I understand that my father needs to face consequences and to pay for what he did, but I do not think it is right for me to lose my father as part of the punishment,” Alyshia Strong wrote in her clemency petition.

She wrote that she frequently visits her dad in prison, and said his advice led her to behave better in school.

“My father told me that I should stay clear of the drama at school, and stay focused on the books, not the people. I listened to my father’s advice, and I can honestly say that I had less drama in my school year than I would have if I had not listened to my father,” she wrote.

The U.S. Supreme Court voted 5-4 against issuing a stay that would have postponed Tuesday’s execution. Strong’s attorney, Jennifer Herndon, argued that Strong was mentally ill. She said both Strong and Washington suffered from mental illness and argued frequently, according to The Associated Press.

“He just snapped,” Herndon said. “It was just sort of a powder keg waiting to explode. It wasn’t a healthy relationship.”

Nixon declined to halt the lethal injection, saying in a statement that the fatal stabbing of the mother and daughter was “very brutal.”

Strong is the fourth person to be executed in Missouri this year, and the 16th in the U.S.

Petrina Thomas, Zandrea Thomas’ aunt, read this statement during a press briefing following the execution, according to the Department of Corrections:

On behalf of the Thomas family, we would like to thank the state of Missouri for finally providing our family with closure of the horrific death of my niece and her mom. For 14 years, we have impatiently waited for this day to come. It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree; the wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it is never gone. The reality is we will grieve forever. We will not get over the loss of our loved ones, and we will learn to live with it. We will heal, and we will rebuild around the loss that we have suffered. We will never be the same again. He had a chance to watch his daughter grow up and laugh and smile with her. We never got a chance to see her first day of school, graduations, or watch her go on prom. My brother will never get a chance to walk his daughter down the aisle for her wedding day. Human life has dignity at any age. Nothing can justify the shedding of innocent blood or the taking of lives. You must take 100 percent responsibility for your choices and your actions, and pay with your own life. Revelation 21:4 reads: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We are at peace now and so glad that it is finally over. Thank you

US – UPCOMING EXECUTIONS MAY 2014


Dates are subject to change due to stays and appeals

April 23

May
13 TEXAS Robert Campbell
21 TEXAS Robert Pruett
21 MISSOURI Russell Bucklew
28 OHIO Arthur Tyler
29 TEXAS Edgardo Cubas (Foreign National) – STAYED

Missouri executes William Rousan


Last meal: Bacon cheeseburger, onion rings, soft drink, and pecan pie

William Rousan’s last words were,

“My trials and transgressions have been many. But thanks be to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I have a new home in his heavenly kingdom.”

April 23, 2014

— Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday who was convicted of killing a farming couple in 1993 as part of a plot to steal their cows.

William Rousan’s last words were, “My trials and transgressions have been many. But thanks be to my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, I have a new home in his heavenly kingdom.”

Before he was killed, Rousan, 57, mouthed words to his brother-in-law and a minister he had invited to his execution. As the drug was administered, he breathed deeply twice and then was still. He was declared dead at 12:10 a.m., nine minutes after the procedure started.

Prosecutors say Rousan, his teenage son, Brent Rousan, and his brother, Robert Rousan, murdered Charlie and Grace Lewis on Sept. 21, 1993 as part of a plot to steal their cows. Brent Rousan is serving life in prison without parole, and Robert Rousan served seven years in prison before being released in 2001.

The slain couple’s son and two daughters were among those who witnessed the execution, which took place only a few miles from where their parents were killed. Their son, Michael Lewis, spoke afterward.

“I draw no real satisfaction from Mr. Rousan’s incarceration or execution, for neither can replace or restore the moments lost with my parents or give my sons back the grandparents they never got to know,” he said.

Gov. Jay Nixon declined William Rousan’s clemency request Tuesday evening, clearing the way for the execution to proceed. In a statement explaining his decision, Nixon said he thought Rousan’s sentence was appropriate for his alleged role as the mastermind behind the “cold-blooded plot” that led to the couple’s slayings.

Earlier Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down Rousan’s request to delay his execution.

Efforts to spare Rousan’s life hinged an argument that has held little sway over the courts — concerns about the secrecy used to obtain the execution drug, and the possibility that a substandard drug could cause pain and suffering in the execution process.

Several states, including Missouri, now use compounded execution drugs purchased from unnamed pharmacies. Courts so far have allowed most executions to move forward. However, on Monday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court stayed the executions of two death row inmates who challenged the secrecy surrounding the process of procuring execution drugs.

Missouri has executed one death row inmate each month since November. Another Missouri inmate, Russell Bucklew, is scheduled for execution on May 21. Only Texas, with seven executions, has executed more inmates than Missouri’s four so far in 2014. Florida has also executed four inmates this year.

According to prosecutors, William Rousan masterminded the plot to kill Grace Lewis, 62, and Charles Lewis, 67, at their farm near Bonne Terre. At the time, Rousan also lived in the same area of St. Francois County, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Authorities say the three men drove by the farm, and William Rousan pointed out the cattle to steal. They parked about two miles away and hiked through the woods to the farm. They watched as the couple returned home. Charles Lewis began cutting the lawn with a riding mower while his wife spoke to the couple’s daughter on the phone.

Brent Rousan, then 16, ambushed Charles Lewis, shooting him six times. Grace Lewis told her daughter on the phone she heard gunfire and stepped outside to check on the commotion. Brent Rousan shot her several times. She managed to go back into the home, but William Rousan followed her, placed a garment bag over her head and carried her outside.

He turned to his son and said, “Finish her off.” Brent Rousan fired a single shot into the side of her head.

The men placed the bodies in a tarp and put them near a shed. Later that night, they returned, along with another Rousan brother, loaded the bodies in the Lewis’ pickup truck, and took two cows, a VCR, jewelry, a saddle and other items.

For almost exactly a year, they got away with the crime. The couple seemingly had vanished without a trace.

In September 1994 investigators received two tips that helped them solve the case: Rousan’s brother-in-law, Bruce Williams, called police to implicate Rousan in the couple’s killings and a sister of William and Robert Rousan sold a VCR to a pawn shop that had been stolen from the Lewises.

The bodies were found buried in a shallow grave covered with concrete and a pile of horse manure on the farm where William Rousan was living at the time. After a four-day manhunt, Rousan was arrested while hiding in a barn on Sept. 20, 1994. He was caught with a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle and a knife.

Brent Rousan pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Robert Rousan cooperated with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

Missouri inmate seeks execution stay after Oklahoma drug secrecy case – William Rousan


April 22, 2014

Lawyers for a Missouri death row inmate on Tuesday were seeking to halt his execution over concerns about the state’s secret lethal injection drugs a day after an Oklahoma court stopped two executions there over similar issues.

William Rousan, 57, is scheduled for execution at 12.01am CST on Wednesday. Rousan was convicted of murdering 62-year-old Grace Lewis and her 67-year-old husband, Charles Lewis, in 1993 in a plot to steal the farm couple’s cattle.

Attorneys for Rousan have argued that Missouri’s secret execution drugs could cause undue suffering. The eighth US circuit court of appeals on Monday rejected Rousan’s appeal, and the case was headed to the US supreme court.

The action follows a decision issued on Monday by the Oklahoma supreme court that halted the executions of Clayton Lockett, scheduled for Tuesday, and Charles Warner, scheduled for April 29. The court said the inmates had the right to have an opportunity to challenge the secrecy over the drugs Oklahoma intends to use to put them to death.

Lawyers for death row inmates in several states have raised a series of arguments against the use of compounded drugs for executions. Many states have turned to the lightly regulated compounding pharmacies for supplies because makers of drugs traditionally used in lethal injections have largely stopped making them available for executions.

But the lawyers argue that drugs obtained for lethal injections from compounding pharmacies could lead to undue suffering, which would amount to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the US constitution. They also say they should have information about the legitimacy of the supplier, and details about the purity and potency of the drugs.

Prison officials have rejected those arguments and have been refusing to reveal where they are getting the drugs.

But Louisiana and Ohio this year have seen executions delayed because of concerns about suffering that might be caused by untraditional drug supplies. The family of one inmate executed in Ohio in January has filed suit against the state because, according to some witnesses, he took an unusually long time to die and appeared to be in pain.

Last year, Missouri started classifying compounding pharmacies as part of its execution team and said the identities of the pharmacies were thus shielded from public disclosure.

MISSOURI :Death penalty hearing delayed: Murderer could die before sentence


April 9, 2014

A hearing to determine whether convicted murderer Gregory A. Bowman would once again face the death penalty has been delayed for a year because he has a terminal illness.

Bowman, 62, is facing sentencing for a murder 35 years ago in St. Louis County. Circuit Judge David Vincent, the judge presiding in Bowman’s case, set the hearing for April 27, 2015.

Bowman was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape and murder of 16-year-old Velda Rumfelt who was abducted from a busy Brentwood, Mo., intersection. DNA found in Rumfelt’s underwear was a 1 in 459 trillion match to Bowman.

Bowman, who also was convicted of killing two young women from Belleville, denied his guilt in the Rumfelt case from the witness stand to then-St. Louis County prosecutor Joe Dueker at the first sentencing hearing in 2009.

The Missouri Supreme Court overturned his death sentence in 2011. The court ruled that during the sentencing phase of the trial, the judge erred when he allowed testimony regarding Bowman’s conviction of the murders of 14-year-old Elizabeth West and 21-year-old Ruth Ann Jany, both of Belleville.

“It would be hollow if he passes away in prison but as long as he doesn’t hurt any other women, we can live with that,” said Teresa Rumfelt, Velda Rumfelt’s friend and sister-in-law. “He’s the lowest of the low. We would rather see him executed, but, at this point, we will take what we can get.”

“We were aggravated about what happened with the (Missouri) Supreme Court,” Teresa Rumfelt said. “We followed the rules and we did what we were supposed to do and he still slipped out just like he did over there.”

West was abducted from West Main Street in Belleville. Her body was found in a small creek near Millstadt on May 5, 1978. Two months later, Jany was abducted from a Belleville bank’s parking lot. Her skeletal remains were found a year later in a field near Hecker.

Both the St. Clair County convictions were overturned after St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporters questioned the manner in which his confession was obtained.

The newspaper reported that Bowman was “tricked” into confessing by former investigator Robert Miller, who got jail prisoner Danny Stark to plot an escape with Bowman, who confessed to delay his transfer to Menard Correction Center where he was to serve a sentence for abducting another Belleville woman from a coin laundry.

Associate Judge Richard Aguirre found the confession to Miller was not given freely and gave Bowman a new trial. Bowman posted bond and was released from jail for the first time in 29 years.

His freedom didn’t last long.

Former Belleville Police Chief James Rokita, then retired, took a DNA profile offered by Bowman in the Belleville cases to Missouri and urged investigators there to compare it to their cold cases.

Scientists were able to discover the semen in Rumfelt’s underpants. Prosecutors said Bowman allowed Rumfelt to dress after her rape, preserving the DNA that would eventually be matched to Bowman’s DNA profile.

Bowman was free just over a week before he was arrested for the Rumfelt murder. This time, the trial would be in St. Louis County, where Bowman would face a capital murder case.

Steve Evans, Bowman’s defense attorney, argued that Bowman’s conviction was the only one in the state based solely on DNA evidence. Evans argued further that the DNA evidence should have never been sent to Missouri for comparisons to cold cases there.

Jurors voted to convict Bowman of Rumfelt’s murder. Her body was discovered June 6, 1977, in a field near the Six Flags amusement park in Eureka, Mo. She had been raped and strangled with a shoestring, and her throat had been slashed.

After Bowman received the death sentence in Missouri, then St. Clair County State’s Attorney Robert Haida dismissed the West and Jany murder charges.

Bowman remains in the Potosi Correctional Center in Missouri.

MISSOURI – EXECUTION MICHAEL TAYLOR EXECUTED AT 12:10 AM


February 26, 2014

Michael Taylor has been executed by Missour using compounded pentobarbital

Final Meal:

Taylor did not use his right to request a specific last meal and was served potato soup and a sandwich.

Missouri has gone ahead with executing a death-row prisoner using a drug from an unspecified source. The lethal injection of pentobarbital used to kill Michael Taylor, 47, who raped and murdered a teenage girl in 1989, was presumed to have been bought by the state from a compounding pharmacy – a supply arrangement that sparked legal challenges over the potential cruelty of using an unregulated drug.

In a brief phone conversation with The Kansas City Star just hours before the execution, Taylor said he had written a letter to Ann’s parents and that a prison official assured him it would be offered to them. In the letter, Taylor said, he expressed “my sincerest apology and heartfelt remorse.”

“I hope that they’ll accept it,” Taylor said of the letter.

Taylor offered no final statement. He mouthed silent words to his parents, two clergymen and two other relatives who witnessed his death. As the process began he took two deep breaths before closing his eyes for the last time.

Taylor was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. Federal courts and the governor had refused last-minute appeals from his attorneys, who argued that execution drugs purchased from a compounding pharmacy could have caused Taylor inhuman pain and suffering.

Taylor’s victim, 15-year-old Ann Harrison, was in her driveway holding her school books, flute and purse when she was abducted by Taylor and Roderick Nunley. The men pulled her into their stolen car, took her to a home, then raped and fatally stabbed the girl as she pleaded for her life.

Nunley also was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution.

In their appeal Taylor’s attorneys questioned Missouri’s use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide pentobarbital. They also cited concerns about the state executing inmates before appeals were complete and argued that Taylor’s original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty.

The Oklahoma-based compounding pharmacy Apothecary Shoppe agreed last week that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor’s execution, which left Missouri to find a new supplier. The attorney general, Chris Koster, later disclosed that a new provider had been found but refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state’s execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

Taylor’s attorneys argued use of the drug from an unspecified source could cause an inmate pain and suffering because no one could check if the maker was legitimate and had a record of producing safe drugs.

The official makers of pentobarbital refuse to sell it for executions.

AUDIO: Bernard interview 7:40
AUDIO: Post-execution news conference 8:23