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Supreme Court lifts stay, Missouri execution can proceed

BONNE TERRE, Mo. The U.S. Supreme Court has denied last-minute requests to halt the execution of a Missouri man convicted of killing a local jeweler two decades ago.

The high court issued a temporary stay less than three hours before Herbert Smulls was scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

But the court lifted the stay without explanation late Wednesday afternoon, meaning the execution can move forward.

Smulls' attorneys were challenging among other things the state's refusal to disclose where it obtained its lethal injection drug. The state says the name of the compounding pharmacy isn't public record, because it's considered part of the execution team.

The 56-year-old Smulls was sentenced to death for killing Stephen Honickman and badly injuring his wife during a 1991 robbery of their suburban St. Louis store.

Earlier story

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule today on two petitions regarding Missouri death row inmate Herbert Smulls, the Missouri Attorney General's office said.

Smulls' execution had been scheduled for 12:01 a.m. today, but was stayed Tuesday night with an order signed by Justice Samuel Alito. Smulls' lawyers had made last-minute pleas to stop the execution, giving the high court time to investigate errors by lower courts. The lawyers had focused on an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling refusing to allow Smulls' attorneys to learn more about a compounding pharmacy in Oklahoma that produces Missouri's execution drug.

Smulls' lawyers said the appeals court ruling made it impossible for them to investigate whether Missouri's execution protocol could put him at risk violating his 8th Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

After the stay on Tuesday night, the state said it would reconvene the execution team at noon today. Smulls, 56, was convicted and sentenced to death for killing a St. Louis County jeweler and badly injuring his wife during a 1991 robbery.

St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said talk about the drug is a smoke screen aimed at sparing the life of a cold-blooded killer. He noted that several courts have already ruled against Smulls, including the U.S. District Court in Kansas City and the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Gov. Jay Nixon denied clemency Tuesday evening.

Smulls had already served prison time for robbery when, on July 27, 1991, he went to F&M Crown Jewels in Chesterfield and told the owners, Stephen and Florence Honickman, that he wanted to buy a diamond for his fiancee. He took 15-year-old Norman Brown with him.

Once in the shop, Smulls began shooting. The robbers took rings and watches, including those that Florence Honickman was wearing.

She was shot in the side and the arm, and feigned death while lying in a pool of her own blood but survived. Her 51-year-old husband died.

Police stopped Smulls 15 minutes later, and they found stolen jewelry and weapons in his car. Florence Honickman identified the assailants. Brown was convicted in 1993 of first-degree murder and other charges, and sentenced to life without parole. Smulls got the death penalty.

Missouri had used a three-drug execution process since 1989, until the drug makers stopped selling those drugs for executions. Missouri eventually switched late last year to pentobarbital. Pentobarbital was used to execute two Missouri inmates late last year, and neither showed visible signs of distress.

Compounding pharmacies custom-mix drugs for clients and are not subject to oversight by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, though they are regulated by states.

On Tuesday, Pilate said previous testimony from a prison official indicates that the state stores the drug at room temperatures, which could taint the drug and potentially cause it to lose its effectiveness.

Pilate also said she and her defense team used information obtained through open records requests and publicly available documents to determine that the compounding pharmacy is The Apothecary Shoppe, based in Tulsa, Okla. In a statement, The Apothecary Shoppe would neither confirm nor deny that it makes the Missouri execution drug.

Also on Tuesday, Missouri Senate Democratic Leader Jolie Justus introduced legislation that would create an 11-member commission responsible for setting the state's execution procedure. She said ongoing lawsuits and secrecy about the state's current lethal injection method should drive a change in protocol.
Sorry Granny I know how you feel.  It's bs to hear about all the trouble your family is going through.  If she does go into general population hopefully she will be bullied over what she has done and possibly contract a horrible disease.
Supreme Court Takes Up Collings Death Appeal Today

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - A man convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the rape and strangulation of nine-year-old Rowan Ford is set to appear today before the Missouri Supreme Court to appeal his conviction on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

Christopher Collings was convicted in 2012 for the murder of Rowan in 2007. Authorities found Rowan's body in a sinkhole in McDonald County and Collings later confessed to her abduction and murder.

During his trial, Collings filed motions to suppress his statements and evidence gained from a search of his property.

According to court documents, the trial court overruled his attempt to admit a videotape of a conversation between Collings and the Wheaton chief of police, who was a close friend.

The court also overruled Colllings' objections to several photographs from the crime scene that the state submitted into evidence and closing argument.

Upon the jury's findings and receiving the death sentence, Collings appealed.

According to Collings, the trial court erred in overruling his motion to suppress evidence. He also says several of his rights were violated because he did not confess voluntarily and did not understand his Miranda rights.

Collings says the trial court abused its discretion and erred by barring his evidence and allowing the state to present its evidence at the suppression hearing because his conversation with the Wheaton chief of police would have shown he was under pressure to forgo constitutional rights.

Among other contentions, Collings says the death sentence should be vacated and he should be sentenced to life without parole.

According to court documents, the state contends Collings' death conviction is just because the sentence was properly imposed, the evidence supports the aggravating circumstances, and the sentence is not excessive or disproportionate.

KOLR10's Laurie Patton will be covering the appeal hearing,  Wednesday, Jan. 7. Tune in to KOLR10 News at 5 and 6 p.m. for her reports.

Background of the case:

On the night of Nov. 2, 2007, Rowan's mother Colleen went to work, leaving the girl with her step-father, David Spears.

Collings and another friend were already at the house drinking Smirnoff Ice and drinking in the basement.  Later, the men left to buy more alcohol and drop by Collings' residence, leaving Rowan by herself.  While at Collings', the three men drank, talked and smoked marijuana.

According to court documents, Spears and his friend left Collings' residence about 30-60 minutes later.

At about 9 a.m., Colleen came home and could not find Rowan.  Spears told Colleen that Rowan was at a friend's house, but could not say which friend.  Colleen wanted Spears to call the police, but he would not and kept insisting that she was at a friend's house.

Later that day, around 5-6 p.m., Spears called the Newton County Sheriff's Department to report the girl missing.

Patrolmen searched for Rowan and the Highway Patrol tried to locate her friends.  Spears, Collings and their friend were considered suspects because they were the last to see Rowan.

During the next five days, police and the FBI continued to search for Rowan with the help of the community and Collings.

Collings kept in contact with a long-standing friend, Wheaton Chief of Police Clinton Clark, during the search period. Collings had known him since he was a young boy.

On Monday, Nov. 5, Clark contacted the Newton County Sheriff's Office and the FBI to inform them that he had contact with Collings' that day.  He said he believed Collings knew something about Rowan's disappearance and offered to help the investigation.

Days later, on Nov. 9, Rowan's body was found in a 10-15 feet deep sinkhole/cave called Fox Cave.  The girl was naked, except for a shirt and sock.

Later that day, Collings contacted Clark, fearing for his safety.  Collings said a grey van had been following him around town and he was finally able to shake it.  Clark urged Collings to meet him in his office, and Collings obliged.

Court documents say Collings began to speak about Rowan when somebody came in to the office.  He would not speak with anyone else around.  Clark suggested they drive to Muncie Bridge, a few miles out of town.

Clark drove to the bridge with Collings, who was not under arrest at this time.  Clark and Collings sat on a slope near the bridge and Collings recounted his story.  It was the same story he had previously told law enforcement, up to the point when Spears and their friend left Collings residence.

Crying, Collings confessed to raping and killing Rowan.

Driving back to his office, Clark called the city clerk and asked the building be emptied.  When Collings and Clark went back to the police chief's office, Collings recounted his statement in front of six law enforcement officers.

Collings was handcuffed and taken to the Barry County Sheriff's Department.  While there, he was read his Miranda rights and gave a videotaped statement.

During the statement, Collings says the night of Nov. 2 he drank five six-packs of Smirnoff Ice.  Collings said, after his friends left, he knew he could beat Spears home.  He said he didn't know why he drove to the house and did not intend to take Rowan.

While at the house, he searched though a few rooms and found Rowan on the floor under a blanket.  In his truck, Collings said he started to think about having sex with the girl on the way home.

At his residence, he had vaginal intercourse with Rowan for a few minutes, Collings admitted.  The girl awoke and struggled after Collings penetrated her, he said.

Collings said he intended to return Rowan to her bed and led her outside, facing away from him so that she couldn't see his face.

While outside, however, Rowan looked back and saw Collings by the light of the moon.  Collings said he knew she recognized him and he freaked out. 

He used a coil of cord he found in the bed of his pickup to strangle Rowan to death.

Initially, Collings said, he wanted to leave the girl in a creek, but did not want her to be discovered quickly, so he left her in Fox Cave.

Back at his residence, Collings discovered blood on his mattress and clothes.  In a wood stove, he burned Rowan's pants, underpants, his clothes and the rope.  He burned the mattress outside in a 55-gallon drum with some old carpet, to help it burn, he said.

Collings denied that Spears or anyone else was involved in Rowan's death.  He said he had been "bawling like a baby all afternoon" and felt guilty and remorseful.

On December 21, 2007, Collings was charged with one count of first degree murder, one count of forcible rape, and one count of statutory rape.

The jury found Collings guilty and recommended death.  It found that the murder involved torture and was outrageously and wantonly vile, horrible and inhumane and Rowan was killed as a result of her status as a potential witness.

Collings  Brief$FILE/SC92720_Collings_brief.pdf

State's Brief$FILE/SC92720_State_brief.pdf

Collings Reply Brief$FILE/SC92720_Collings_reply_brief.pdf

DNA links executed Missouri convict to 1984 triple murder

OTTUMWA, Iowa  -- A killer who was executed in Missouri for the 1987 murder of a 12-year-old girl was also responsible for a long-unsolved triple homicide in Iowa three years earlier, investigators announced Friday.

New DNA evidence implicates Andrew W. Six in the 1984 bludgeoning deaths of 20-year-old Justin Hook Jr.; Hook's fiancee, 19-year-old Tina Lade; and Hook's mother, 41-year-old Sara Link, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation and Wapello County Sheriff Mark Miller announced.

"What we know for sure is that Andy Six is responsible," Miller said at a news conference at his office in Ottumwa, in southeast Iowa.

Missouri authorities executed Six, then 32, by lethal injection in 1997 for the kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Kathy Allen. Six and his uncle kidnapped the girl from her family's trailer in Ottumwa, then slit her throat and dumped her in northern Missouri.

Retired DCI supervisor Sam Swaim said that Six was always a suspect in the 1984 triple homicide, but that investigators could not come up with enough evidence to charge him. He said that he was happy that scientific evidence has linked Six to the crime but wishes Six had been caught earlier.

"I regret that we didn't get that case solved. That would have saved Kathy Allen's life," he told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

Hook's body was found one day after his trailer was burnt down in rural Drakesville, a sleepy town of 200 people near the Missouri border, in April 1984. When authorities tried to notify Hook's mother, they learned that she was missing.

Days later, a farmer found her body on a hilly, wooded section of his property near Eldon, about 15 miles northeast of Drakesville. Two days later, police dogs found the body of Lade in a ravine a half-mile from where Link's body was recovered. Investigators said all three had been killed by blows to the head.

The discovery of the bodies shook the rural area with little violent crime. Hook had given Lade, of Ottumwa, an engagement ring days before their deaths on the birthday they shared, when she turned 19 and he turned 20.

Several relatives of the victims attended the Friday news conference where investigators announced their conclusion. Among them was 32-year-old Justin David Hook, Hook's son, who was 2 years old at the time his father was murdered. Now a mechanic in St. Louis, he said that he doesn't remember his father and thought he would go his whole life not knowing how he was killed.

"I've been waiting my whole life to come up here and do this," he told AP. "At least it's something."

Investigators said they believe that Six killed the three after a dispute over payment for a used car he sold Hook and that he burnt down the trailer to conceal evidence.

No murder weapon was ever found, and no arrests were made.

A DCI cold case unit re-examined the case in 2011, sending DNA material believed to be sperm that was recovered from Lade's jeans to a laboratory for testing. A DNA profile was developed and matched that of Six, who had given his DNA to Missouri authorities while he was incarcerated. Six had denied during an interview in 1984 that he ever met Lade.

DCI supervisor Mike Motsinger said solid evidence, including the DNA and matching footwear impressions discovered near both bodies, ties Six to the deaths of Lade and Link. The footwear evidence had led authorities to focus on Six in 1984. Similar footwear impressions were taken from a car that Six sold after the homicides, but that wasn't enough to make an arrest, Motsinger said.

Investigators concluded that Six was also responsible for Hook's death at the trailer, but acknowledged there was no physical evidence putting him there. They believe that he acted alone, Motsinger said.

Three years after Six apparently got away with those murders, he terrorized the Allen family.

Six and his uncle, Donald Petary, went to the family's trailer under the pretense of buying a used pickup truck from the Allens. In reality, they had planned to rob the family and rape their oldest daughter, who was a pregnant teenager at the time. Six raped the teen, then slit her mother's throat with a butcher knife. The men then grabbed Kathy Allen and headed south.

They were arrested in Texas the next day. Petary led police to Kathy's body -- in a muddy ditch along a gravel road about 20 miles south of the Iowa border. She had bled to death after her throat was slashed. Petary died in prison in 1998 while awaiting execution.

Investigators tried to re-interview Six about the triple homicide before his execution, but he "was uncooperative," Motsinger said.

Cynthia Moyes, Link's daughter and Hook's sister, said the deaths have been hard to live with. She said Friday's news finally brought some closure but also makes her miss her once tight-knit family.

"My mom was my best friend, and I lost her at age 21," she said.
Details emerge in ex-death row inmate's Vallejo murder case

FAIRFIELD -- Ex-death row inmate Dennis Stanworth hid his 90-year-old mother's decomposing body in a trash bin for weeks before calling police to say he killed her, according to testimony at his preliminary hearing Friday.

Stanworth, 70, of Vallejo, is charged with killing his mother, Nellie Stanworth, at his Hiddenbrooke-area home in early November. He told police he hit her in the head with a brick and slashed her throat before burying her in a garbage can filled with dirt.

Shackled and wearing jail garb, Stanworth appeared before Superior Court Judge Alesia Jones, who held him over for trial after the hour-long hearing. An Aug. 16 hearing was scheduled for further proceedings.

Stanworth told authorities that he killed his ailing mother because he "couldn't take it anymore," Vallejo Detective Sean Kenney testified. He also indicated he didn't want to die before she did because he was concerned about who would take care of her.

Stanworth, who looked after his mother, suffered a stroke last year, his attorney said.

Stanworth was arrested Jan. 9, after he called Vallejo police and confessed to killing his mother, who had lived for several years at the Olympia Mobilodge of Napa in American Canyon.

Vallejo Police Officer Michael Koutnik testified he was dispatched about noon to the house on the 2500 block of Marshfield Road. When officers arrived, he said Stanworth was crying and saying he killed his mother.

Stanworth then led officers to a green garbage can in the backyard full of dirt. Koutnik said he and other officers donned gloves and dug into the dirt with gardening tools.

"I saw what appeared to be a human finger protruding from the dirt," Koutnik testified. They called the coroner's office next.

Authorities later emptied the bin onto a tarp, revealing a clothed human body in a crouching position, Jackson Harris of the Solano County coroner's office testified. The body -- later identified as Stanworth's mother -- was wrapped in a blanket with a bucket over her head. Her head was also wrapped in plastic.

Her injuries included skull fractures and a cutting wound that severed her windpipe, forensic pathologist Susan Hogan testified. Toxicology tests revealed she had ingested antidepressants and painkillers.

Stanworth told police he'd covered her body with dirt and leaves and left it alongside the house for 12 days. After it began to smell, he placed it in a garbage can with soil and what he believed to be a decomposing agent, Kenney said.

Stanworth's mother had been depressed following a medical procedure that made it hard for her to care for herself, her former neighbor and caretaker Laurie Vega said. Stanworth later helped her move into an assisted-living facility in Vallejo last fall. The last time she saw her was when she returned to the mobile home park in early November saying she was moving back, Vega said.

She later heard from Stanworth that his mother was visiting her sister. He then told her she had passed away in her sleep, Vega said.

Stanworth was convicted in 1966 of murdering two Pinole teenage girls he picked up hitchhiking. He drove the girls to the shoreline, forced them to undress, and shot them, after which he raped one of them.

Stanworth pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death twice, but both death sentences were later reduced to life with the possibility of parole. He was paroled in 1990 and required to register as a sex offender.
UPDATE: Legal challenges demand more information about execution plans

Monday, November 11, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY -- With the state's first execution since 2011 scheduled for next week, legal challenges against the Department of Corrections have shifted to the source of the drug, pentobarbital, that the state plans to use Nov. 20 in the lethal injection of Joseph Franklin.

On Friday, a group of lawyers who represent more than a dozen death row inmates filed an amended complaint in federal court, asking for stays of execution.

The complaint was amended in light of the Corrections Department's new plan to use pentobarbital from an undisclosed compounding pharmacy, which tailor drugs for individual patient's needs, in executions. It also focuses on Eighth Amendment concerns of using drugs compounded by a pharmacy with less stringent regulations than traditional pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt, who was shot and paralyzed by Franklin in 1978, sued Saturday for the release of sealed court documents related to the development of the new execution protocol, and the identity and qualifications of an anesthesiologist on the state's execution team.

Flynt's motion, which was filed on his behalf by the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, cites his First Amendment right to access court records.

"The public has a right to know the details about how the state plans to execute people on its behalf," Flynt said in an ACLU statement Monday.

While Franklin admitted to shooting Flynt, he was never charged in that crime. Franklin was convicted for five racially motivated murders, including the killing of Gerald Gordon outside a St. Louis-area synagogue in 1977.

Flynt wrote an op-ed for the Hollywood Reporter last month and staked out an across-the-board position against the death penalty.

"I have had many years in this wheelchair to think about this very topic," Flynt wrote. "As I see it, the sole motivating factor behind the death penalty is vengeance, not justice, and I firmly believe that a government that forbids killing among its citizens should not be in the business of killing people itself."

The inmates' amended complaint presents a new argument focused on the Corrections Department's new execution protocol, which was revised Oct. 18.

The complaint argues that drugs sourced from compounding pharmacies do not meet the same requirements for "identity, purity, potency, efficacy and safety" as drugs produced by FDA-regulated pharmaceutical manufacturers.

The complaint argues that for lethal injections using pentobarbital, the lack of regulation of compounding pharmacies and the secrecy of the pentobarbital's source presents "several causes for substantial risks of serious, unnecessary, and lingering pain and suffering as well as mental anguish."

"Regulation of compounding pharmacies is pantywaist compared to the regulation of a pharmaceutical company that is subject to the FDA," St. Louis attorney John William Simon said Thursday. Simon represents some of the death row inmates.

The recent complaint is the latest in a string of controversies involving Missouri's execution procedures.

On Oct. 8 and Oct. 18, the Corrections Department released hundreds of records to the ACLU that documented the state's search and purchase of propofol throughout the summer. The previous execution protocol called for the use of widely used anesthetic for lethal injections.

According to the documents, the department acquired one batch of European-made propofol from a domestic distributor after a computer error. Another batch of American-made propofol was purchased from an "unauthorized distributor" that was not supposed to be selling the product.

The questionable acquisition of propofol and the broader controversy over the first-ever lethal injection using the common anesthetic, forced Gov. Jay Nixon to halt the execution of Allen Nicklasson originally scheduled for Oct. 23. Nixon also requested the Corrections Department to develop a new protocol that doesn't use propofol.

The Corrections Department revised its execution protocol Oct. 18, establishing a broader definition of the execution team, which now includes "individuals who prescribe, compound, prepare or otherwise supply the chemicals for use in the lethal injection procedure." The previous protocol did not include the suppliers of lethal injection chemicals on the execution team.

Under the Missouri laws that govern the death penalty, the identities of members of the execution team cannot be released.

Following the development of the new protocol, the ACLU sued over its right to publish the documents it had received from the Corrections Department. The ACLU argues the new definition of the execution team would put them at risk of lawsuits if they were to publish the names of past drug suppliers to the state.

The Missouri Supreme Court rescheduled Nicklasson's execution on Friday for Dec. 11. Nicklasson was convicted of the 1994 killing of Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond, who stopped to help when a car used by Nicklasson and two others broke down on Interstate 70. Another man in the car, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.

Missouri's new protocol calls for the use of pentobarbital in executions. The drug has been widely used by states for executions but has become increasingly difficult to acquire after the FDA-approved manufacturer prohibited its sale to prisons. States such as Texas, Georgia and Ohio have instead turned to compounding pharmacies.

The Corrections Department responded to a Sunshine Law request from the Missourian last month asking for all records related to the development of the new protocol with four pages of new records. The records documented three bids solicited over the phone from undisclosed companies.

The original bid form, dated Oct. 21, listed the product being sought as 10 grams of "Injectable Phenobarbital." Two of the bids do not list a price, while one lists the total prices at $8,000.

When asked why the bid form listed phenobarbital and not pentobarbital, as the protocol calls for, department spokesman David Owen said it was an "egregious" spelling error. A revised bid form, dated Oct. 31, was subsequently provided to the Missourian.
New Execution Date Set for Mo. Inmate Allen Nicklasson
November 8, 2013 3:04 PM

ST. LOUIS (AP) - A Missouri execution postponed last month amid debate over the state's choice of execution drug was rescheduled Friday for Dec. 11.

The Missouri Supreme Court set the new date for the execution of Allen Nicklasson, who was convicted in the 1994 slaying of a good Samaritan, spokeswoman Beth Riggert said. The execution is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. at the prison in Bonne Terre, Mo.

Nicklasson was supposed to be executed Oct. 23, when Missouri planned to use the anesthetic propofol for the first time. The plan drew concerns from the medical community because most of the drug is made in Europe, and the anti-death penalty European Union had threatened to limit export if propofol was used in an execution.

As a result, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon stepped in and halted the execution. Days later, the Missouri Department of Corrections announced a switch to pentobarbital. Pentobarbital is a sedative used as an execution drug by 13 other states.

Nicklasson was convicted of killing Excelsior Springs, Mo., businessman Richard Drummond, who stopped to help when a car used by Nicklasson and two others broke down on Interstate 70. Another man in the car, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.

The state previously used a three-drug mix for executions, a practice that came to a halt when makers of the drugs stopped selling them to prisons and corrections departments because they didn't want them used for lethal injection.

Missouri's first use of pentobarbital is schedule to take place Nov. 20, when Joseph Paul Franklin is set to die. Franklin has been convicted of several killings and admitted to nearly two dozen more, but is on death row for the sniper shooting of a man outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.

Jennifer Herndon, the attorney for both Franklin and Nicklasson, said she was surprised by the decision to set a new date for Nicklasson.

"I thought they would wait at least until after the first of the year, and I felt like they might wait and see if Franklin is actually executed," Herndon said. "There's certainly a challenge to that, which I believe is really valid."

The court challenge to Franklin's execution cites concerns about the use of pentobarbital, particularly Missouri's plans to use a compounding pharmacy to make the drug, Herndon said.

Messages seeking comment from the Missouri Attorney General's Office were not immediately returned.

Nicklasson, Skillicorn and Tim DeGraffenreid were driving to Kansas City, Mo., in August 1994, when their 1983 Chevrolet Caprice broke down on I-70 in mid-Missouri, soon after they burglarized a home and stole guns and money. Drummond, a technical support supervisor for AT&T, saw their stalled car and offered to drive the men to a pay phone.

Once in Drummond's company car, Skillicorn and Nicklasson held a gun to his head and ordered him to drive to a secluded wooded area. Nicklasson shot Drummond twice in the head. His remains were found eight days later.The execution of convicted killer Allen Nicklasson, postponed in the debate over Missouri's choice of execution drug, has been rescheduled for Dec. 11.

The Missouri Supreme Court set the new date on Friday.

Nicklasson was convicted of the 1994 killing of Excelsior Springs, Mo., businessman Richard Drummond, who stopped to help when a car used by Nicklasson and two others broke down on Interstate 70. Another man in the car, Dennis Skillicorn, was executed in 2009.

Nicklasson was first set to be executed Oct. 23, when Missouri planned to use the anesthetic propofol for the first time. The plan drew concerns because most propofol is made in Europe, and the European Union threatened to limit export if it was used in an execution.

Gov. Jay Nixon stopped the execution.
Missouri switches to new lethal injection drug

October 22, 2013

Missouri's effort to mete out capital punishment continued to evolve Tuesday with a plan to carry out executions with a drug commonly used to euthanize pets.
The Missouri Department of Corrections announced a plan to use lethal injections of the sedative pentobarbital after Gov. Jay Nixon postponed an execution over concerns about using a common hospital anesthetic drug, propofol.

The department said in a news release that it would use a compounding pharmacy to produce pentobarbital. By obtaining the drug that way, the state can sidestep large drug manufacturers, which are trying to prevent its use in capital punishment.

Thirteen other states have used the drug for executions, but only Texas and Ohio are using compounding pharmacies, which make custom drugs in small batches. No further information was provided about the pharmacy, which the state designated as part of its execution team.

On Oct. 11, Gov. Jay Nixon postponed the execution of murderer Allen Nicklasson, punishment that had been scheduled for today, because of concerns about the state's plan to use propofol. The European Union, which is against the death penalty and supplies most of the propofol used in the U.S., had threatened to cut off that supply if the execution went forward, which could have had a widespread impact on hospitals.

The postponement of Nicklasson's execution came days after the Department of Corrections said it would return to a supplier some of the propofol it had planned to use for executions. The supplier of the drug, Morris & Dickson of Shreveport, La., had pleaded with the state nearly a year ago to return 20 vials it had shipped to Missouri in violation of its agreement with the manufacturer, Fresenius Kabi of Germany, not to provide the drug for capital punishment.

Nixon, who had said the European Union's ultimatum would not halt Missouri's execution schedule, then changed his mind and ordered the corrections department to find a new drug and schedule a new execution date for Nicklasson soon after Nov. 20. That's the date that Joseph Paul Franklin is scheduled to be executed.

Franklin was sentenced to death for the October 1977 murder of Gerald Gordon in St. Louis. Franklin's attorney, Jennifer Herndon of St. Louis, could not immediately be reached for comment. Last week, she told the Associated Press it would be premature to schedule an execution for Nicklasson because the state did not yet have a protocol for using a different drug.

Blurton Receives Death Sentence for Cole Camp Triple Homicide


LIBERTY, Mo. - A Benton County man accused of killing a couple and their 15-year-old granddaughter in Cole Camp in 2009 was sentenced to death today by a Clay County judge hearing the case on a change of venue.

As recommended by the jury that found him guilty of first-degree murder, Blurton was sentenced to death for each of the three murders of Taron Luetjen and her grandparents, Donnie and Sharon Luetjen at their home in Benton County. The victims were Blurton's aunt and uncle, and his cousin's daughter.

Investigators said Blurton killed the three after a robbery. According to court testimony, the family was tied up before being shot.

The Clay County jury, hearing the case after a change of venue, deliberated for nearly four hours and recommended the death penalty after the penalty phase of the trial.
Well don't worry, he's not mentally ill anymore   :P
Victim Issues / Re: Surviving court...
September 14, 2012, 05:31:52 PM
Even after the trial, the convicted has 'rights', they will then file an appeal.  Most of the time it's bullshit, but still it keeps your emotions running high waiting for the outcome.

Be prepared for the defense to try and make the victim seem as though it were their fault and that they are the criminal.  Now, that should not be allowed, but the Judges let them do it.

I rely on my Parents of Murdered Children's group.  I can call them anytime I need to talk and they know what I am going through because they have all experienced the same horrors I have.

I hope it all works out for you, don't see how the trial could go wrong.  Get someone that you are comfortable talking to, it will help.
Hearing may decide fate of man on Missouri's death row in Chain of Rocks case

Sept. 14, 2012

ST. LOUIS One is dead, one is on parole and one is serving a life term, but the fourth man convicted of throwing two sisters to their deaths off the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge two decades ago still has the court's attention in his bid for freedom.

Lawyers for Reginald Clemons, 41, will make their case here next week to a judge appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court to hear evidence and make recommendations on the claim he was wrongfully convicted.

The high court could do anything from leaving him on death row to throwing out his conviction.

The case has been watched by activists around the world, and is the primary focus of Amnesty International USA's Death Penalty Abolition Campaign, its director, Laura Moye said Thursday. She plans to be at the hearing. The organization plans a rally for Clemons on Saturday.

"We were very struck by a long list of problems with the case, which to us was emblematic of the worst things that can happen in a death penalty," Moye said. She recited complaints about police misconduct, a lack of physical evidence and reliance on shaky witness testimony.

Not all of it will necessarily be a rehash of old issues.

A DNA test on evidence that might have been overlooked at the time of the trial may surface during what is expected to be a weeklong hearing at the Carnahan Courthouse downtown. What it shows has never been publicly revealed; lawyers in the case are under a gag order.

The case was especially riveting. Julie Kerry, 20, and Robin Kerry, 19, led a visiting cousin, Thomas Cummins, 19, to the unused span the night of April 5, 1991, to show him a poem they had scrawled there about peace and harmony. They encountered men who raped the women and forced all three into the Mississippi River. Only Cummins survived, and police initially discounted his story.

Detectives soon zeroed in on Clemons, Marlin Gray, Antonio Richardson and Daniel Winfrey. Evidence included a flashlight found on the bridge that was linked to Richardson, and Gray's possession of Cummins' watch.

Winfrey made a deal to testify in exchange for a 30-year term and has been paroled. The others were sentenced to death. Gray was executed; Richardson's penalty was changed to life without parole.

Clemons was just weeks away from execution in June 2009 when the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked it. He then won a new review by the Missouri Supreme Court. It sees a number of appeals from death row inmates each year; most end up there twice. Clemons is receiving a rare third look through a "special master" process.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Michael Manners was appointed 'special master" to hear the evidence.

Clemons' lawyer argues in court filings that new evidence warrants a review of claims that his client's confession, which he later recanted, was beaten out of him. They point to the $150,000 settlement Cummins received from police in 2005 on his own claim that he was coerced into falsely confessing before quickly retelling the version of events that ultimately held weight with police and the courts.

The lawyer, Josh Levine, also argues that Clemons was not given the same treatment as Richardson, whom he argues was more culpable in the state's version of events. Cummins testified that he saw Richardson push the girls from the bridge.

Levine declined to comment for this story, as did Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office, which is representing the state.

Levine is expected to challenge "rape kit" test results from the body of Julie Kerry and three other police lab reports that came to the attention of the attorney general's office two years ago.

Nobody has been able to say whether the evidence was presented to defense lawyers at the time of Clemons' 1993 trial, which would be required if it favored his acquittal. Prosecution and defense lawyers have since said they don't recall having seen it then.

Officials have said there was a public record of its existence starting the year after the trial but the defense is disputing that.

A 1991 lab report, which predated DNA testing, indicated the rape kit showed no seminal fluid or sperm. In addition, Gray's pants were tested, based on semen stains and a hair found on them.

All the evidence has since been tested for DNA, but Manners issued a gag order last year after the Post-Dispatch requested the results.

The method of detecting semen in a tissue sample has not changed in two decades, although DNA testing might offer other identification possibilities.

Even so, it's unclear whether new DNA evidence would matter. Clemons initially confessed to raping only Robin Kerry, whose body was never found. Julie Kerry's remains were found moderately decomposed, about 300 miles downstream, three weeks after the crime.

The jury convicted Clemons without physical evidence of rape, and the presence of someone else's DNA would not necessarily rule him out as one of the killers. If he had raped Julie Kerry, he still might not have left evidence.


This just makes me sick to hear.   :(


This is one case that has always bothered me.  He stalks this kid thinking he is someone else, then guns him down and gets probation.  Makes me wonder what was wrong with this jury.  I'm really surprised the judge allowed this too.

You'll probably never see this reply, however I can tell you what was "wrong" with the jury, as I was one of the twelve selected for this panel. I've read all of the posts above, and there was plenty about the situation that bothered me as well, like you I couldn't understand why Mr. Pulley would appeal the probation verdict that we decided. Anyway, as Mr. Pulley said in one of his appeals, we the jury had difficulty in convicting Mr. Pulley of murder for this case, however we did not have a huge choice in the matter. If we had been offered the chance to convict him of manslaughter instead, we probably would have, because the one thing we all had difficulty on agreeing on was whether Mr. Pulley in fact intended to commit murder. We could not in good conscience agree to his claim of self-defence because plain and simple he did not follow the legal definition of self-defense, he was not acting on an imminent attack or situation where he reasonably could expect to be attacked. If Brandon had been armed, then not only would this be a cut and dry case of self defense but we would've had to find Mr. Pulley completely innocent. The verdict of guilty on the murder but not guilty on the armed criminal action was in fact a compromise, we were having difficulty getting the votes to convict  because the instructions we were given did not leave us a lot of room. Our instructions allowed us to convict on the murder charge without having to convict on the armed criminal action, however the reverse was not true, and while we did feel Mr. Pulley was guilty of the armed criminal action because of his actions, the only way to get a unanimous decision was to agree to "Not guilty" on the armed criminal action, which we believed actually carried a steeper penalty than the murder charge. Now, after reading the details of the court's decision on denying Mr. Pulley's appeal, I feel a bit better that we did indeed give the best verdict that we could under the circumstances. Mr. Pulley's act, while NOT legal, was understandable. We felt he really did believe that Brandon was the youth that had assaulted him previously, not to say the WE believed Brandon was guilty but that we believe that Mr. Pulley believed such. The area where Mr. Pulley went wrong legally speaking was when he used deadly force to detain Brandon. Legally speaking, even with a CCW permit, Mr. Pulley could only detain a person by applying deadly force if he was either in imminent danger of having equally deadly force used on him or at least had reasonable cause to believe that such threat existed, which in our opinion was not the case.

I think you would feel differently if this had been your loved one who was stalked for blocks and murdered in cold blood.  After all the jury convicted him of 2nd degree murder a charge that can get a life sentence in Missouri.  I don't understand why the jury didn't want him to serve time for the crime he committed.  He murdered the wrong guy, but he still murdered and there was no insanity defense.

I guess I don't understand why the jury thought that Pulley was 'afraid' when he was the one who followed the youth for blocks and then pulled out a gun and shot him dead.  The kid wasn't armed and witnesses say there was no fight.

Jury recommends death for man found guilty in Franklin County murder

February 2, 2012

Update: Jury recommends death penalty at 9:40 p.m. after five hours of deliberation. A judge will ultimately determine if Vernell Loggins Jr. gets life in prison or the death penalty. Sentencing is set for March 12.

UNION A jury found a Pacific man guilty of first-degree murder in the killing and dismemberment of his girlfriend in 2009.

The jury of 11 women and one man returned their verdict against Vernell Loggins Jr., 39, this morning after deliberating about six hours Wednesday.

Jurors had the option to convict Loggins of second-degree murder, but they agreed with prosecutors, who said Loggins showed "cool reflection" and deliberation in the stabbing death of Stephanie Fields, 25.

David Kenyon, a public defender, had argued Fields was killed in the middle of a fight and that there was no deliberation.

The sentencing phase, in which the jury will decide whether to recommend the death penalty, began this morning after the verdict.

Maintenance workers found parts of Fields' body Nov. 3, 2009, in a trash can left next to a bin at the Monroe Woods Apartments north of Interstate 44 near the Pacific exit, where Loggins, a trucker, lived.

Jurors on Monday saw graphic photos of Fields' body stuffed into the trash can under ice cubes with the lid glued shut, and of cut marks made to her bones. Her head and forearms had been cut off and were not in the trash can.

Mary Case, chief medical examiner of St. Louis County who performed the autopsy on Fields, testified that Fields had been stabbed 25 times and that her killer had also tried to cut off her right leg. Fields also had suffered badly bruised buttocks not long before her death, Case said.

Bags recovered from the trash bin contained a label from a new trash can, three empty ice bags, Walmart receipts for the can, mail addressed to Loggins and glue.

Jurors also saw a video from the Walmart in Eureka that showed a man buying that type of trash can, Tide laundry detergent and carpet cleaner about 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 2, 2009. That man, who wore a Cardinals baseball hat, left in an SUV registered to Loggins, court documents say. A man wearing the same hat returned that evening to buy glue.

Fields' blood was found in every room of Loggins' apartment, even in the ceiling fan. A shower curtain found in a Dumpster was soaked in her blood as well and there was no shower curtain in Loggins' apartment when police searched it.
High court upholds Odenbaugh sentence

Dec. 10, 2011
The first-degree murder convictions and death sentence of a Bastrop man who gunned down his wife and mother-in-law with a 12-gauge shotgun and wounded his stepdaughter were affirmed by the Louisiana Supreme Court in an opinion released Tuesday, according to a news release from 4th District Assistant District Attorney Mike Ruddick.

Lee Roy Odenbaugh Jr., 47, was convicted by a Ouachita Parish jury in November 2008 on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder in the Dec. 2, 2006, shooting that occurred at the Odenbaugh residence in Bastrop. During the penalty phase, the jury decided Odenbaugh should die by lethal injection.

"We are extremely pleased with the decision. The Supreme Court unanimously found that the verdicts and sentences were proper," said Ruddick, who prosecuted the case along with Dion Young and Holly Jones.

Odenbaugh was accused in the shooting deaths of his wife, Sondra Porter-Odenbaugh, 39, and her mother, Jessie Porter, 58, and the wounding of his stepdaughter, Jessica Cooper, 22, at the Odenbaughs' mobile home on Summerlin Lane.

According to the news release, Odenbaugh had been in an argument with his family earlier in the day and left. Later he returned armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and shot his mother-in-law as she sat in her car. He then shot and wounded his stepdaughter as she ran from the automobile.

Odenbaugh then went into the trailer and shot and killed his wife.

He was captured after a high-speed chase through Morehouse Parish.

Odenbaugh's trial was moved to Ouachita Parish because of pretrial publicity in Morehouse Parish.