Mo. attorney general seeks execution dates for 10 inmates
Saturday, June 9, 2007
The attorney general requests the dates from the state Supreme Court.
ST. LOUIS -- Four days after a federal appeals court ruling opened the way for restarting executions in Missouri, Attorney General Jay Nixon on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to set execution dates for 10 condemned inmates -- more than one-fifth of all inmates on death row in the state.
Nixon's motions actually renew requests for execution dates for five men. He filed new motions in five other cases.
"These are all inmates that have gone through the entire process of state and federal appeals courts," said Scott Holste, a spokesman for Nixon.
In Missouri, the attorney general requests the execution date from the state Supreme Court, which decides whether to do so, and when to do it. Nixon did not request any specific dates.
Normally, the requests come one at a time as an inmate reaches the end of the appeals process, which normally takes years after their conviction.
It isn't clear when the first of the new executions might take place. Missouri Supreme Court spokeswoman Beth Riggert said Nixon's request "is really just the beginning of the process. The other side has a chance to respond. From there, it's impossible to predict what might happen."
Missouri currently has 46 inmates -- all men -- on death row. Inmates awaiting execution are housed at the Potosi Correctional Center, but the executions take place at the state prison in Bonne Terre, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis.
But Missouri hasn't executed an inmate since convicted killer Marlin Gray was put to death in October 2005. Last year, a federal judge ordered a moratorium on executions while the courts consider a case filed by condemned killer Michael Taylor.
At issue was the state's three-drug method of executions. A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday reversed a lower court ruling, saying the three-drug protocol does not violate constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment.
The debate centered on how three drugs are administered in succession. If the initial anesthetic does not take hold, a third drug that stops the heart can cause excruciating pain, it has been argued. But the inmate would not be able to communicate the pain because of a second drug that paralyzes him.
Taylor's attorney said she will appeal the ruling.
Because it's been nearly two years since the last execution, many cases have since made their way through the appeals process, Holste said.
Nixon renewed requests for execution dates for both Taylor and Roderick Nunley, Taylor's accomplice in the 1989 rape and killing of 15-year-old Ann Harrison of Kansas City. The girl had been taken from a school bus stop.
Nixon also renewed requests for execution dates for Richard Clay, convicted in a 1994 murder-for-hire in New Madrid County; Reginald Clemons, one of three men convicted of raping and killing two sisters in St. Louis in 1991; and Jeffrey Ferguson, convicted for killing a 17-year-old service station attendant in suburban St. Louis in 1989.
Nixon also made new requests for execution dates for:
--Andrew Lyons, convicted of killing three people in 1992 in Cape Girardeau.
--William Rousan, convicted with two other men in the 1993 murders of Charles and Grace Lewis in St. Francois County.
--Russell Bucklew, convicted of killing a man in 1996 in Cape Girardeau.
--John Winfield, convicted in the 1996 killings of two people in St. Louis County.
--John Middleton, convicted of killing two people in Mercer County in 1995.