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STAYED - John Middleton - Missouri Death Row - Scheduled Execution
Start : Wednesday 17 September 2008, 20:00
End : Wednesday 17 September 2008, 20:00
John Middleton - Missouri Death Row - Scheduled Execution for July 30, 2008
Victims: Randy Hamilton and Stacey Hodge and Iowa resident Alfred Pinegar
The Crime: Victim Alfred Pinegar John Middleton was a user and dealer of methamphetamine. On June 10, 1995, police arrested several people in Harrison County, Missouri, for possession and sale of the drug. Middleton was not one of the people arrested. About ten days after the Harrison County arrests, Middleton told a friend that "the snitches around here are going to start going down." Middleton stated that he had a "hit list" and that Alfred Pinegar was on it. Two days after making these statements, Middleton told the same friend that he was "on his way to Ridgeway, Missouri, to take Alfred Pinegar fishing."
Alfred Pinegar was also a dealer of methamphetamine and was associated with Middleton as a fellow drug dealer. Pinegar lived with his fiancé Priscilla Hobbs in Davis City, Iowa, just north of Harrison County, Missouri. On June 23, 1995, the day of Pinegar's murder, Hobbs was driving toward her home in Davis City when she saw Middleton and his girlfriend Maggie Hodges in a white Chevrolet 4x4 pickup traveling in the opposite direction. Hobbs noticed that Hodges was sitting in the middle of the truck seat instead of in the right passenger's seat. When Hobbs reached her home, Pinegar was not there and the yard had been partly mowed, as if Pinegar stopped in the middle of the job. Pinegar habitually carried a twelve-gauge shotgun, and that shotgun and about two hundred dollars were missing from the home.
Around noon that same day, Wesley Booth was working in the sporting goods department of a Wal-Mart store in Bethany, Missouri. He was approached by Hodges, Middleton, and another man, presumably Pinegar. Middleton asked Booth for six boxes of nine-millimeter shells and two boxes of twelve-gauge "double-ought" buckshot. Middleton paid cash for the ammunition. During the entire transaction Middleton was standing at the counter across from Booth.
Middleton, Hodges, and Pinegar left Wal-Mart and drove several miles northeast of Bethany near the town of Ridgeway where they parked in a field. Pinegar got out of the truck and began to run when he saw Middleton raise the twelve-gauge shotgun. Middleton shot Pinegar twice in the back. Middleton then delivered the fatal wound to Pinegar, shooting him in the face. Middleton dumped Pinegar's body over a fence. After committing the murder, Middleton and Hodges went back to the Wal-Mart store in Bethany to return the nine-millimeter ammunition.
The Crime: Victims Randy Hamilton and Stacey Hodge On June 10, 1995, several drug dealers were arrested in Cainsville, Missouri. Middleton, a drug dealer, worried that informants would implicate him as well. That afternoon, he told Tom Constable that there were "some snitches that should be taken care of," because he did not want to go back to prison. He mentioned several names, including Randy "Happy" Hamilton.
The next day, Middleton and his girlfriend, Maggie Hodges, met Hamilton and Stacey Hodge on a gravel road. Stacey Hodge was Hamilton's girlfriend. Middleton shot Hamilton in the back once with an SKS rifle, and shot Stacey Hodge in the back three times. Middleton then shot Hamilton in the head, killing him. Maggie Hodges killed Stacy Hodge by shooting her in the head with another SKS rifle. Both bodies were placed in the trunk of Hamilton's car. Middleton drove the car, looking for a place to dispose of the bodies. Hodges followed in a truck.
While driving around, Middleton saw Danny Spurling. Middleton -- covered in blood and driving Hamilton's car -- said that he had "taken care" of Hamilton. He asked Spurling what to do with the bodies, indicating that he might burn them in Hamilton's old house. The next morning, Middleton gave Spurling the car stereo from Hamilton's car, and said that "they were really going to freak out when they found those two." Middleton had a written list of names, and asked if Spurling knew anyone on the list.
About a week and a half later, Middleton told Richard Pardun that "there was a narc around and they were going to take care of it." He said that he had a "hit list," mentioning several names on it, including Hamilton, Alfred Pinegar, (FN1) and William Worley. Middleton offered Pardun $3,500 to set up a meeting with Worley.
On June 25, 1995, John Thomas was at Middleton's house, discussing informants. Middleton listed several people who "needed to be taken care of," including Hamilton, Pinegar, and Worley. Thomas noticed two SKS rifles and a box belonging to Hamilton. When Thomas asked about the box, Middleton replied, "the guy who owned that box wouldn't be needing it no more."
About the same time, Middleton visited Dennis Rickert in Iowa. Middleton told Rickert: "I'd knowed 'Happy' for 15 [years]. He knew enough to put me away for life. I done 'Happy.'" Middleton also gave Rickert several guns, including two SKS rifles, which Rickert later turned over to the police.
Middleton was arrested for another murder (Pinegar's) in late June 1995. On July 10, 1995, Hamilton's car was discovered in the woods where it had been abandoned. The car stereo was missing. The victims' decomposed bodies were in the trunk. Bullet fragments taken from Stacy Hodge's body displayed class characteristics consistent with the SKS rifles that Middleton gave Rickert.
While awaiting trial in the Harrison County jail, Middleton confessed to fellow inmate Douglas Stallsworth. Stallsworth testified that Middleton described the murders, admitted killing Hamilton and Hodge because they were informants, and acknowledged hiding their bodies and taking the rifles to Iowa.
News: The Missouri Supreme Court has postponed what would have been the state's first execution in nearly three years, to allow further legal challenges to its lethal-injection protocol.
The court last month set a July 30 execution date for John Middleton, but issued a stay of execution Friday after learning that Middleton was seeking to join a federal lawsuit by five other death-row inmates.
That suit challenges Missouri's execution protocol as unconstitutional, alleging that the state has a history of using unfit, unscreened personnel.
Missouri has not executed an inmate since Marlin Gray, a convicted killer, was put to death in October 2005. Another killer, Michael Taylor, was to be next, but the court granted a last-minute stay in February 2006.
Nationwide, executions were on hold while Taylor and other inmates challenged constitutionality of the lethal injection. In Taylor's suit, the surgeon who supervised Missouri's lethal injection testified that he was dyslexic.
A Post-Dispatch investigation revealed that the surgeon, Alan R. Doerhoff, had been sued for malpractice more than 20 times and publicly reprimanded by the State Board of Healing Arts.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Kentucky's lethal injection protocol, opening the door for states to resume executions.
But challenges continued in Missouri, where a federal judge in Kansas City ruled that the Supreme Court's ruling in the Kentucky case did not address the concerns raised about the fitness of Missouri's execution team.
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