death penalty

Attorneys for a Missouri inmate scheduled to be put to death next week for a triple killing more than two decades ago are pressing a federal judge to block the execution, citing the man's brain tumor.

Attorneys for Ernest Johnson say in a lawsuit last week in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Missouri, that his "unique medical condition" could be exacerbated by lethal injection, possibly causing uncontrollable seizures and convulsions.

Joe Gratz / Flickr

The Missouri Supreme Court has scheduled a November execution for an inmate convicted of killing three workers at a Columbia convenience store more than two decades ago.

Missouri Supreme Court
Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

  The Missouri Supreme Court has set an execution date of July 14 for David Zink, convicted of abducted and killing a southwest Missouri woman in 2001.

Missouri Department of Corrections

The Missouri Supreme Court has set a June execution date for a man convicted of fatally stabbing his girlfriend and her 2-year-old daughter in 2000. 

execution gurney
California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

  Members of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, or MADP, gathered at the Methodist Church in downtown Columbia Thursday to discuss reforming capital punishment procedures.  Convener for the Columbia chapter of MADP, Jeff Stack, said the organization hopes to one day see the death penalty revoked.  But for now, the immediate priority is to have it reformed.


ST. LOUIS (AP) — An execution date of January 28th has been set for a man who fatally stabbed a St. Louis County woman during a 1998 burglary.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday set the execution date for 45-year-old Marcellus Williams. It would be Missouri's first execution in 2015, after a state record 10 inmates were put to death this year.

Noahudlis / Wikimedia Commons

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for a Missouri man scheduled to be executed next week have asked Gov. Jay Nixon to grant clemency, citing concerns about the role race played in Leon Taylor's death sentence.

execution gurney
California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri is preparing to execute a man who wasn't able to appeal his conviction in federal court because his attorneys missed a filing deadline to do so.

Mark Christeson is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. CDT Wednesday for the killing of a woman and her two children in 1998.

As preparations for a man’s execution begin, his pen pal is hoping she will be able to speak with him for the last time tonight.

Jonathunder / Wikimedia commons

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for Missouri death row inmate Earl Ringo Jr. are asking Gov. Jay Nixon to halt the execution scheduled for next week over concerns that race was a factor in Ringo's conviction and death sentence.

Ringo, who is black, was convicted of killing two people in a Columbia restaurant robbery in 1998. Attorney Kay Parish says Ringo was tried by a white judge and sentenced to death by an all-white jury. Her request to Nixon on Thursday also asks that the governor appoint an independent board of inquiry to examine the role race played in the case.

A motion for judgment has been filed in a lawsuit accusing the state of violating Sunshine Laws for refusing to provide information related to Missouri executions.

The filing seeks to expedite a lawsuit filed earlier this year by stating there is no dispute in the core facts of the case, which calls on the court to order the Department of Corrections to release details about the drugs used in lethal injections. It also seeks to identify the pharmacies and laboratories that create and test the drugs.

Missouri Department of Corrections

The Missouri Supreme Court has canceled an execution for one death row inmate and scheduled a different man to be put to death next month.

Missouri Department of Corrections

A Missouri inmate has been put to death for raping and killing a neighbor in 1995, the first lethal injection in the U.S. since an execution in Arizona went awry last month.

Missouri Department of Corrections

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether to intervene in the scheduled Missouri execution of an Illinois man condemned to death in the 1995 killing of a suburban St. Louis college student.

For the fourth time this year, an inmate's lethal injection did not go as planned. Last night, it was Arizona, but the state has company.

An Ohio inmate took 25 minutes to die in January. In Oklahoma, there were two apparent botches: In one,  an inmate said, "I feel my whole body burning," and in another, the prisoner took more than 40 minutes to die.

But Arizona's execution took even longer. Joseph Wood's execution began at 1:52 p.m., and he died nearly two hours later at 3:49 p.m.

Steven Depolo / Flickr

Death-row lawyers and other opponents say the nation's third botched execution in six months is more evidence for the courts that lethal injection carries too many risks and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

Late Wednesday, Missouri executed John Middleton, 54, after courts debated whether he was mentally competent as well as claims that he was actually innocent.

According to the Department of Corrections, the execution began at 6:58 p.m. and ended at 7:06 p.m.

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.

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.

Flickr / steakpinball

Missouri's attorney general says the state should establish its own laboratory to produce chemicals for use in executions rather than rely on an "uneasy cooperation" with medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies.

execution gurney
California Department of Corrections / Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court has put off the execution of a Missouri inmate with a rare medical condition who challenged the state's refusal to disclose the source of its lethal injection drug.

The justices on Wednesday said a lower federal court needs to take another look at the case of convicted killer Russell Bucklew.

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.

News of Tuesday's botched execution in Oklahoma got us thinking more generally about who is in prison and who is facing the death penalty.

Here are some figures that may surprise you:

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 Supreme Court
Americasroof / Wikimedia Commons

As Missouri prepares for its fifth execution in five months, the Missouri Supreme Court on Friday set the date for another, continuing what could be a record year.

Jeffrey Ferguson is scheduled to die Wednesday for abducting and killing a teenager in St. Charles County in 1989. His attorneys on Thursday filed appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, asking that the execution be delayed until lower courts can decide if a stay should be granted. Ferguson's attorneys also claim that his conviction was based, in part, on false testimony from an FBI agent.

In Missouri and across the nation, the process of executing criminals is becoming complicated. It’s one of our society’s most somber, and impactful, tasks. But how much do you know about the process? If you don’t know much about it, there may be a reason for that. Two of our colleagues at in public radio have investigated and found that the process is shrouded in secrecy. Meantime, four people have been executed in Missouri in as many months, after years of less frequent executions.

Senate floor at the Missouri Capitol
File / KBIA

A Missouri Senate committee is considering legislation on the death penalty.

Still from the film / Jaap Van Hoewijk

This story is part of True/False Conversations, a series of in-depth interviews with the filmmakers of this year’s True/False Festival.  Find the rest of them here or download the podcast on iTunes.

The case of a Missouri death row inmate who accuses police of beating a false confession out of him was heard Tuesday by the State Supreme Court.

Nottingham Vet School / Flikr

An Oklahoma compounding pharmacy linked to Missouri's new lethal injection drug is now seeking a license to do business in the neighboring state.