During January and the first few days of February 1996, David Barnett had been living with friends in the Glendale area. He had spoken several times to his friends about his grandparent’s car, a 1995 Dodge Intrepid, and had told them that his grandparents were going to rent this car to him. About 8:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 4, 1996, Barnett walked to the home of his grandparents, who were away attending Sunday school and church services at the Kirkwood Baptist church. Barnett entered the home, apparently through a bedroom window, sat down on the couch, turned on the television, and soon fell asleep. When he awoke, he phoned his stepbrother Scott and boasted that he had just won the lottery last night and had suddenly come into a large sum of money. Barnett was waiting for his grandparents when they returned home around 1:00 p.m. He confronted his grandmother and pushed her down in the hallway. He then pushed his grandfather to the floor and grabbed a knife that was lying on the nearby kitchen table. As his grandfather rose from the floor, Barnett kicked him in the head, and when he fell to the floor again, Barnett stabbed him repeatedly in the neck area. All told, Barnett inflicted ten stab wounds and numerous cuts to his grandfather’s neck, face, and hands. Satisfied that he had killed his grandfather, Barnett returned to the kitchen to get another knife and then began stabbing his grandmother in her neck as well. Once again, Barnett returned to the kitchen to get more knives. This time he retrieved two knives with which he continued to stab his grandmother until she, too, was killed. She suffered a total of 12 stab wounds to her neck and numerous cuts to her face. After the attack, Barnett concealed one of the knives by placing it between two mattress pads in his grandparent’s bedroom. Next, he went to the bathroom and washed the blood off his hands. He then removed the keys to the 1995 Dodge Intrepid that were dangling from the lock in the back door, retrieved his coat, and took approximately 120 dollars from his grandmother’s purse. Before leaving the house, Barnett stood silently next to his victims to hear if they were still breathing. After determining that his victims were dead, Barnett lowered two of the shades in the house, locked up, and drove off in the victims’ car.Early the next morning, police officers found the victims’ car parked in a residential area of Glendale. Barnett walked up to the uniformed officers and confessed that he had committed the murders.
Date of crime: October 1991
Barton was convicted of fatally stabbing 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler in her trailer after going to her home to ask to borrow $20. Kuehler was stabbed 52 times and sexually assaulted. This is the fifth time Barton has been tried for the murder. Two mistrials were declared, while the other three trials resulted in death sentences. During the penalty phase, the state presented evidence of Barton criminal history which involved many violent crimes against women.
Convicted of killing his wife and wounding four others during a 1992 shooting spree inside the St. Louis County courthouse. The shooting occurred on May 5, 1992. Baumruk and his wife, Mary, were about to begin a divorce hearing. Court documents showed he reached into a briefcase and pulled out two .38-caliber handguns and shot his wife in the neck. He then shot her attorney in the chest and his own attorney in the chest, arm and neck as the attorney tried to run.
In August of 1983, Boliek was living in Linda Turner’s home. Aside from Turner, other residents of the home included Boliek’s lover Jill Harless, Turner’s brother Don Anderson, and Vernon Wait. The victim, Jody Harless, arrived to visit her sister Jill, and stayed at the Turner house. One Friday evening, Boliek, Wait, Anderson, and Jody Harless robbed the home of an acquaintance, Stan Gray, at gunpoint. Afterward, fearing retaliation from Gray and his friends, Boliek acquired a 12 gauge shotgun, and Wait acquired a .410 sawed off shotgun. Boliek and Wait began to discuss the necessity of "getting rid of witnesses" to the robbery. Learning the police wanted to speak with Gray, Boliek, Wait and the Harless sisters left Kansas City on the following Monday.
Boliek convinced them to drive to Thayer, Missouri to hide out with Boliek’s parents. They robbed a liquor store in Nevada on the way. Later that night, they made a rest stop along Route M in Oregon County. After the car stopped, Jody Harless got out. As she was walking back to the car, Boliek took the 12 gauge shotgun from the car and shot her. She grabbed her stomach but continued to walk towards the car. She began to plead with Boliek. Wait grabbed Harless and forced her to the ground and Boliek shot her again. Boliek told the victims sister that he had fired the second shot into the victim’s mouth and neck so identification of the body would be impossible. Boliek was arrested September 6, 1983, in Decatur, Illinois, for an armed robbery of a gas station committed earlier that day. When arrested, he had in his possession the shotgun and shotgun shells he had used to kill Jody Harless. Boliek managed to escape from custody but was recaptured. A rancher riding his fence line discovered the body of Jody Harless on September 10, 1983, 28 feet from Highway M in Oregon County. Police investigators discovered two live .410 shotgun shells and two 12 gauge expended shells near the body. The victims decomposed body was unidentifiable by viewing and had to be identified by dental records. She had been killed by a shotgun wound to the head. At trial, Boliek claimed that when he fired the first shot he did not know the gun was loaded. The second shot, he said, was fired by Wait. The jury found Boliek guilty of capital murder and imposed the death sentence.
Gregory Bowman has been sentenced to death for killing a teenager in St. Louis County more than 30 years ago. Circuit Judge David Lee Vincent III on Friday agreed with the jury's recommendation for the death penalty. Bowman's attorney says he will appeal. Bowman had spent 28 years in prison for two killings in Illinois before his conviction was vacated.
Bowman, of Belmont, Ill., was sentenced in the 1977 killing of Velda Rumfelt, 16, in St. Louis County. The jury that convicted the Bowman, 58, in October recommended the death penalty.
Bowman was imprisoned 28 years for killing Elizabeth West, 14, and Ruth Ann Jany, 21, in separate cases in Belleville, Illinois, in 1978.
The convictions were thrown out after a sheriff's deputy admitted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Bowman had been tricked into confessing.
Sentenced to Death 12/11/09
Russell E. Bucklew
Russell Bucklew apparently did not want to live apart from Stephanie Ray. The two had lived together in Cape Girardeau County until Ray decided to break up with Bucklew on Valentine’s Day, 1996. Bucklew left their mobile home and went to live with his parents. On March 6, Bucklew returned to the trailer he had shared with Ray, found Michael Sanders, the victim in this case, there, concluded that Sanders and Ray were romantically involved, put a knife to Sanders’s throat and threatened to kill Sanders if Sanders ever came back to Ray’s trailer. Later that same evening, Bucklew returned to the trailer, found Ray alone, threatened her with a knife, cut her jaw, and punched her in the face before leaving. Ray reported all of this to the police. Bucklew called Ray at work the following day, March 7. He threatened her again and promised to kill her, Sanders, and her children if he saw her with Sanders again. Ray moved in with Sanders, fearing to return to her own home. Sometime during the night of March 20-21, Bucklew stole his nephew’s car, two of his brother’s pistols, two sets of his brother’s handcuffs, and a roll of duct tape. He left a note asking his family not to report his theft to the police. By the afternoon of March 21, Bucklew began surreptitiously following Ray as she left work and ran errands, ultimately discovering where she lived by following her to Sanders trailer. Bucklew waited for some period of time before he knocked on Sander’s trailer door. One of Sander’s children opened the door. Sanders saw Bucklew through the window , escorted the children to a back bedroom and grabbed a shotgun. Bucklew entered the trailer with a pistol in each hand. Sanders came into the hallway carrying a shotgun. Bucklew yelled "get down" and without further warning began shooting at Sanders. Sanders fell, struck by two bullets, one of which entered his chest and tore through his lung. Sanders dropped the shotgun. It went off and blew a hole in the trailer wall. Bucklew aimed the gun at Sanders’s head but when he saw Sander’s six-year-old son. Bucklew fired at the boy instead. The shot missed. Ray stepped between Bucklew and Sanders, who was holding his chest as he slumped against the wall. Bucklew invited Ray to drop to her knees. When she delayed, he struck her face with the pistol. He produced handcuffs, handcuffed her hands behind her back and dragged her to the car. The two drove away.
During the journey that followed, Bucklew demanded sex. When all of the acts he demanded were not performed, Bucklew raped Ray in the back seat of the car. Resuming the journey, Bucklew drove north on Interstate 55. By this time law enforcement authorities had broadcast a description of the Bucklew car. Trooper James Hedrich saw the car, called for assistance, and began following Bucklew. They ultimately apprehended Bucklew after a gunfight in which both a trooper and Bucklew were wounded by gunshot. Michael Sanders bled to death from his wounds.
On Saturday, January 31, 1998, Christeson, 18, and his cousin Jesse Carter, 17, who were living in the home of a relative, David Bolin, concocted a plan to run away. The Bolin home was located in a rural area near Vichy, Missouri. Susan Brouk, along with her children, twelve year old Adrian and nine year old Kyle, lived about a half mile away. On Sunday morning, February 1, 1998, after Mr. Bolin left for work, Christeson and Carter each took shotguns and went to Ms. Brouk's home. After hiding outside for a few minutes, they entered the home and found Adrian and Kyle sitting on the living room floor. Ms. Brouk came in from the kitchen and encountered Carter binding her children's hands with shoelaces that he had brought for that purpose. Christeson forced Ms. Brouk into her daughter Adrian's bedroom at gunpoint, where he then raped her on Adrian's bed. When Christeson brought her back out to the living room, Carter bound her hands behind her back with a piece of yellow rope. Ms. Brouk said "you had your fun, now get out." At some point during the confrontation, Ms. Brouk and Kyle were both struck in the head with a blunt object. About that time, Adrian recognized Carter and said "J.R.," Carter's nickname, and "Jesse Carter," which prompted Christeson to tell Carter "we got to get rid of 'em." They forced Ms. Brouk and her children into the back seat of Ms. Brouk's Bronco and also loaded her television, VCR, car stereo, video game player, checkbook, and a few other small items. Christeson drove down the highway, down a gravel road, and then across a neighbor's field to a pond at the edge of a wooded area. They forced Ms. Brouk and her children to the bank of the pond. Christeson kicked Ms. Brouk just below her ribs with enough force that she was knocked to the ground. Christeson then placed his foot on her mid-section, and reached down and cut her throat with a bone knife. She bled profusely, but she did not die immediately, and as she lay on the bank of the pond, she told Adrian and Kyle that she loved them. Then Christeson cut Kyle's throat twice and held him under the pond water until he drowned. Carter pushed Kyle's body farther out into the pond so the body would sink. At Christeson's direction, Carter retrieved cinder blocks from a nearby barn, and while there, heard Christeson fire a shot from one of the shotguns. When Carter returned to the pond, Adrian was struggling to free herself from Christeson. Carter held Adrian's feet while Christeson pressed down on her throat until she suffocated, and Carter then pushed Adrian's body into the pond. While Ms. Brouk was still alive, but barely breathing, Christeson grabbed her arms and Carter grabbed her legs, and they threw her into the pond on top of her children's bodies. As she drowned, Carter went into the woods to get a long stick, which he used to push the Brouks' bodies further out into the pond. Christeson and Carter returned to Mr. Bolin's property in the Bronco and parked it near a garbage pile. They took one of the shotguns back into Mr. Bolin's house, loaded their personal belongings into an Oldsmobile, and then drove the Oldsmobile back to the garbage pile and transferred their belongings to the Bronco. At that point, they drove off in the Bronco, eventually heading west on Interstate 44. Ms. Brouk's sister, Kay Hayes, thought it was unusual that Ms. Brouk and her children did not come to Sunday dinner, as planned, but she was not concerned until Tuesday evening, when she called Ms. Brouk's home and there was no answer. That evening Ms. Hayes called another sister, Joy Lemoine, to inquire if she had heard from Ms. Brouk, but she had had no contact either. When family members went to Ms. Brouk's house the next evening, they discovered that Ms. Brouk's prescription glasses and the children's and Ms. Brouk's coats were still in the house and that the television, VCR, and Bronco were missing. They called the police, and that night officers from the Maries County Sheriff's Department secured the home and searched the premises. The next morning, officers in a Missouri State Highway Patrol helicopter conducting an aerial search spotted a body floating in a pond located slightly southeast of the Brouk's residence. After landing the helicopter in a field just south of the pond, they found the bodies of Ms. Brouk, Adrian, and Kyle partially submerged. The officers then investigated the area around the pond and found a sixteen-gauge shotgun shell on the south bank, some leaves and soil splattered with blood, shoe impressions, and two cinder blocks on the west bank near the area where the bodies were recovered. There were also tire impressions leading from the pond to the garbage pile on Mr. Bolin's property where Christeson and Carter had parked the Bronco. In the meantime, Christeson and Carter were driving from Missouri to California. On the way, they sold several items of Ms. Brouk's property to pay for gas and food. Christeson also pawned the sixteen-gauge shotgun at a pawnshop in Amarillo, Texas. On February 9, 1998, a detective with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, stationed in Blythe, California, recognized Christeson and Carter from their photographs on a flyer that had been circulated by law enforcement officials, and later that day the fugitives were arrested.
Missouri officials continued to investigate the crimes. A medical examiner's autopsy report showed that the cuts to Ms. Brouk's neck were not severe enough to cause her death immediately and that the actual cause of death was drowning. Autopsies also revealed that Ms. Brouk and Kyle had hemorrhaging or bleeding under the scalp, indicating a blunt impact injury or blow to the head, and that there were two superficial cuts across Kyle's neck, but that he, too, died from drowning. Adrian died from suffocation, but there also was a small, shallow puncture wound in Adrian's left arm that could have been caused by a pellet from a shotgun shell, although no pellet was present. DNA testing performed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol Crime Laboratory established that genetic material from semen recovered from Ms. Brouk's body and from Adrian's sheets matched Christeson's genetic profile. Firearms-identification testing established conclusively that the sixteen-gauge shotgun that Christeson pawned in Texas was the one that fired the shell found on the bank of the pond.
Clay’s close friend Charles Sanders had an affair with Stacy Martindale. In February 1994, Martindale asked Sanders to help her kill her husband. She was unhappy in her marriage and also was the primary beneficiary of her husband’s life insurance policy in the face amount of $100,000. During the spring of 1994, every time they met, Sanders and Martindale discussed various plans to kill her husband. Sanders confided in Clay, who told him that he would be "crazy" to help her with the plan.
Sanders borrowed a gun from another friend and kept it in his car. He bought ammunition and he and Martindale practiced firing the weapon. At that time, Clay was unemployed and did not own a car. He often borrowed Sanders’ car, twice took the gun out of the car without permission, and left the gun at a friend’s house. He testified that he removed the gun so that he wouldn’t be caught with it while driving Sanders’ car. Martindale separated from her husband about April 28, 1994. Martindale offered Sanders $100,000 to kill her husband and in April gave him a check for $4996.36 as a "down payment." A few weeks later, Sanders returned the check to Martindale, telling her that he could not execute the act they had been discussing. A carbon copy of the check was later found.
On May 19, 1994, Martindale met Sanders at Sanders’ place of employment. Clay waited inside to give them privacy. Outside, Martindale pressured Sanders to kill her husband. When Sanders refused, Martindale told him that she was going to ask Clay to do it. Then she immediately rode around alone with Clay. Leaving Martindale, Clay went to a bar, to a restaurant, and then to a trailer. Clay left the trailer carrying a black zippered bag. At 9:45 p.m., Martindale picked up Clay, who still had the black bag and drove him to her home. In the meantime, her estranged husband had taken her two boys to a baseball game. He brought the boys back to her house after 10 p.m. Martindale invited him to spend the night. He went into her bedroom, sat down on a love seat, and took off his shoes and socks. While he was sitting there, Clay came out of the bedroom closet where he was hiding and shot him four times. The victim bled to death. Martindale ran next door, awakening the neighbors with her screams. A neighbor came over to the house with her to find the two boys had discovered the victim bleeding from gunshot wounds, slumped over in the love seat in the bedroom. Moments later, a police officer saw a red Camaro with sparks flying beneath it. Because the driver continued to drive despite the sparks, the officer believed the driver to be drunk. He pursued the Camaro, and when it accelerated, the officer turned on his red lights. The officer caught up to the Camaro on a gravel road where it was stopped, both doors opened, with the engine running. The officer requested backup and turned off the ignition of the Camaro. A shoe print, later found to match Clay’s, was found outside the passenger door. When the other officers arrived, they began a search sweeping the area from the vehicle to a swamp. An officer found a dry, live .380 caliber Remington-and -Peters cartridge that matched those found at the crime scene in dew covered grass. The search lasted throughout the night. The next day several officers were sitting on a levee when one saw Clay run into the woods. Clay was carrying a black bag. As the officer closed in on him, he emptied the bag and threw it behind him. Officers continued the search through the swamp until one saw Clay’s face as he surfaced to breathe. When the officers reached him, they arrested him. The police never found the murder weapon.
Cecil Clayton and Martha Ball had been involved in a romantic relationship and had, at times, lived together. By November 1996, their relationship was coming to an end. On November 27, 1996, Martha asked Clayton to meet her at the Country Corner, a store in Purdy, Missouri. She requested that Clayton bring some important papers she had left at his home. Clayton arrived at the store without the papers. Clayton requested that Martha go with him to his home to obtain the papers but she refused. He left and returned with the papers. Clayton was driving his blue Toyota truck with wooden sides. When Clayton returned with the papers he asked Martha to go out to eat with him. She refused. Clayton became angry, pushed her, and the two began to argue in the store. Barbara Starkey, an employee of the store, noticed the argument and called the Barry County sheriff's department. Jim McCracken, Purdy chief of police, responded to the call and spoke with Clayton. He lingered in the store until after Clayton left. Martha asked Chief McCracken if he would escort her to Cassville where she was staying with her mother, Dixie Seal. Before Chief McCracken could arrange the escort, Martha left the store saying that she was going to a friend's home. Martha then went to Vicky Deeter's home in Monett. Vicky testified that Martha was very scared, pale, and shaking when she arrived at her home. After leaving the Country Corner store, Clayton went to see his friend, Martin Cole, at around 9:40 p.m. Clayton asked Martin to go with him. Martin declined because he had to drive a friend to work. Clayton became angry, raised his voice, and left.
Martha called Dixie Seal, her mother, at around 9:50 p.m. and advised her sister, Carolyn Leonard, that she was at Vicky's home. Shortly thereafter, Carolyn heard a vehicle outside, its engine running roughly. She observed the vehicle stop, back into the driveway and turn its lights off. Because there were lights across the top of the cab Carolyn surmised that the vehicle was a truck. She phoned Martha and verified that Clayton was driving the truck. Carolyn then telephoned the Barry County sheriff's department and advised them that Clayton was on their property and was not welcome. Deputy Christopher Castetter was dispatched to the Seal residence. He contacted the dispatcher when he arrived at 10:03 p.m. Ralph Paul, Dixie Seal's neighbor, and his son-in-law, Greg Pickert, had also heard and seen the truck in Seal's driveway. Ralph phoned Mrs. Seal to inquire about the truck. They described the vehicle as a truck because of the lights across the top and noticed that it was backed into the driveway and running roughly. Shortly thereafter Ralph and Greg went back outside. The truck was gone and the two noticed a car sitting at an angle with the engine running at a high rate of speed and the tires spinning. Deputies David Bowman and Jason Manning also heard the dispatch regarding the Seal residence and decided to go by the area to assist Deputy Castetter. When they arrived, at approximately 10:06 p.m., Deputy Castetter's patrol car was sitting at an angle against a tree in the driveway. The car's engine was still running at a high rate and the tires were spinning and smoking. Deputy Manning approached the driver's side of the car. The window was rolled down about an inch, but was not broken. He put the car in park and turned off the engine. Deputy Castetter was leaned over in his seat. His seatbelt was not on; his weapon was still snapped in its holster; his flashlight was no longer secured in its cradle. Deputy Manning attempted to assist Deputy Castetter who was bleeding heavily from his head and having trouble breathing. Deputy Bowman contacted the dispatcher at 10:07 p.m. and advised that an ambulance was needed. Deputy Bowman went to Mrs. Seal's home and spoke with Carolyn Leonard and Dixie Seal. Deputy Bowman then contacted the dispatcher and advised that Clayton was believed to have been driving the truck that had been in the driveway. Deputy Castetter was transported to the hospital by helicopter. He had suffered a gunshot wound to the head, about the middle of his forehead. Despite medical treatments, Deputy Castetter died. At about 10:10 to 10:15 p.m., Clayton returned to Martin Cole's house. Clayton asked Martin to accompany him, and the two left in Clayton's truck. While in the truck Clayton asked Cole "would you believe me, if I told you that I shot a policeman, would you believe me?" Clayton described how he shot the "cop" in the head and how Deputy Castetter then hit the accelerator and hit a tree. Clayton then took the weapon out of his overalls, pointed it at Martin's head, and threatened to shoot him. He asked Martin if he thought it was loaded. Clayton told Martin that he wanted him to act as an alibi and tell the police that the two had been together all afternoon and evening watching television. At about 10:15 p.m. Chief McCracken heard a dispatch to be on the lookout for a blue Toyota truck with wooden sides driven by Clayton. McCracken recognized the description of the truck as the one driven by Clayton earlier that evening at the Country Corner store. McCracken met Chief Clint Clark of the Wheaton police department who had also heard the dispatch. The two confirmed Clayton's home address and then went to his residence. Clayton was driving toward his home when he saw the two police cars approaching. He parked in the driveway and asked Martin "should I shoot them?" Martin answered no. The officers activated their car spotlights, and Clayton eventually got out of his truck. The officers identified themselves. Clayton began walking toward the side of his house, advising the officers that he could not hear them. He kept his right hand in his pocket. Clayton refused to remove his hand or approach the officers. He continued toward his house, placed something in a stack of concrete blocks, and returned to his truck. Martin complied with the officers' request to get out of the truck and was apprehended. Clayton was then apprehended and transported to the sheriff's department. Martin advised the officers that Clayton had a gun. The officers located the gun in the stack of concrete blocks next to Clayton's house.
Mike Rogers of the Missouri highway patrol interviewed Clayton. Clayton's version of the events varied from complete denial to stating that Deputy Castetter "probably should have just stayed home" and that "he shouldn't have smarted off to me." Clayton then stated "but I don't know because I wasn't out there." Following an investigation, Clayton was charged by information in the Circuit Court of Barry County with one count of murder in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action. Venue was transferred from Barry County to Jasper County. A jury found Clayton guilty of murder in the first degree and, finding three aggravating circumstances, recommended that Clayton be sentenced to death for Christopher Castetter's murder. The trial court imposed the death sentence.
Was sentenced to death for his participation of the April 4th 1991 murder of Julie (20) and Robin Kerry (19) who were pushed off a bridge and drowned.
Andre Cole and his wife, Terri Cole (Terri), divorced in 1995 after eleven years of marriage. Cole was ordered to pay child support for the care of the couple's two children but his periodic failure to make payments resulted in an arrearage totaling nearly $3000.00. Upon learning that a payroll withholding order was issued to his employer, Cole commented to his coworkers, "Before I give her another dime I'll kill the bitch." The first payroll deduction for child support appeared on Cole's August 21, 1998 paycheck, and several hours later Cole forced his entry into Terri's house by throwing an automobile jack through the glass door leading to the dining room. Anthony Curtis (Curtis), who was visiting Terri, confronted Cole and asked him to leave. Cole stabbed Curtis multiple times resulting in his death. Cole then assaulted Terri, stabbing her repeatedly in the stomach, breasts, back, and arms, and her hands when she attempted to defend herself. Terri survived. After the attack, Cole fled the state, but he returned to St. Louis and surrendered to the police thirty-three days later. DNA analysis confirmed the presence of both victims' blood on the knife and the presence of Cole's blood on the deck of Terri's home, the backyard fence, and in the street where Cole's car had been parked.
Richard D. Davis
Convicted and Sentenced to Death 8/08 of first-degree murder, kidnapping, rape, sodomy, and assault in the May 2006 slaying of 41-year-old Marsha Spicer. The jury also found him guilty of kidnapping, rape, sodomy and assault in an attack a month earlier on 36-year-old Michelle Huff-Ricci.
Davis' girlfriend, Dena Riley, is shown on videotapes participating in the sexual assault on Spicer and is scheduled for trial next year in Spicer's killing. And both are charged with capital murder in neighboring Clay County, where Huff-Ricci's charred remains were found in April 2006.
On November 7, 2008, Carman L. Deck was sentenced for a third time to death for the 1996 fatal shootings of an elderly couple from De Soto. Two previous death sentences for Deck, now 43, had been overturned on appeal. The death sentence was imposed today at Hillsboro by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Gary Kramer, who accepted the recommendation of a jury that heard the arguments for the death penalty in September. Case Facts: In June 1996, Deck planned a burglary with his mothers boy friend, Jim Boliek, to help Boliek obtain money for a trip to Oklahoma. Deck targeted James and Zelma Long, the victims in this case, because he had known the Longs' grandson and had accompanied him to the Longs' home in DeSoto, Missouri, where the grandson had stolen money from a safe. The original plan was to break into the Longs' home on a Sunday while the Longs were at church. In preparation for the burglary, Deck and Boliek drove to DeSoto several times to canvass the area. On Monday, July 8, 1996, Boliek told Deck that he and Deck's mother wanted to leave for Oklahoma on Friday, and he gave Deck his .22 caliber High Standard automatic loading pistol. That Monday evening, Deck and his sister, Tonia Cummings, drove in her car to rural Jefferson County, near DeSoto, and parked on a back road, waiting for nightfall. Around nine o'clock, Deck and Cummings pulled into the Longs' driveway. Deck and Cummings knocked on the door and Zelma Long answered. Deck asked for directions to Laguana Palma, whereupon Mrs. Long invited them into the house. As she explained the directions and as Mr. Long wrote them down, Deck walked toward the front door and pulled the pistol from his waistband. He then turned around and ordered the Longs to go lie face down on their bed, and they complied without a struggle. Next, Deck told Mr. Long to open the safe, but because he did not know the combination, Mrs. Long opened it instead. She gave Deck the papers and jewelry inside and then told Deck she had two hundred dollars in her purse in the kitchen. Deck sent her into the kitchen and she brought the money back to him. Mr. Long then told Deck that a canister on top of the television contained money, so Deck took the canister, as well. Hoping to avoid harm, Mr. Long even offered to write a check. Deck again ordered the Longs to lie on their stomachs on the bed, with their faces to the side. For ten minutes or so, while the Longs begged for their lives, Deck stood at the foot of the bed trying to decide what to do. Cummings, who bad been a lookout at the front door, decided time was running short and ran out the door to the car. Deck put the gun to Mr. Long's head and fired twice into his temple, just above his ear and just behind his forehead. Then Deck put the gun to Mrs. Long's head and shot her twice, once in the back of the head and once above the ear. Both of the Longs died from the gunshots. After the shooting, Deck grabbed the money and left the house. While fleeing in the car, Cummings complained of stomach pains, so Deck took her to Jefferson Memorial Hospital, where she was admitted. Deck gave her about two hundred fifty dollars of the Lung's money and then drove back to St. Louis County. Based on a tip from an informant earlier that same day, St. Louis County Police Officer Vince Wood was dispatched to the apartment complex where Deck and Cummings lived. Officer Wood confronted Deck late that night after he observed him driving the car into the apartment parking lot with the headlights turned off. During a search for weapons, Officer Wood found a pistol concealed under the front seat of the car and, then, placed Deck under arrest. Deck later gave a full account of the murders in oral, written and audio taped statements.
A Jefferson City man was sentenced to death 2/08 for the Christmastime 2006 slaying of his cousin and her husband in Callaway County. Boone County Circuit Judge Gene Hamilton ordered the death penalty in a sentencing hearing for Brian Dorsey, 26. A Boone County jury recommended death sentences for Dorsey in the Dec. 23, 2006, slayings of Ben and Sarah Bonnie in their New Bloomfield home. Dorsey already had pleaded guilty to 2 counts of 1st-degree murder in the case. The 2-day trial held in Boone County on a change of venue was for the jury to decide the punishment recommendation: death or life imprisonment without parole.
In 1990, Kimber Edwards and Kimberly Cantrell divorced. Cantrell received primary physical custody of their daughter, Erica, and Edwards was ordered to pay child support. In 1995, his child support obligation was raised to $351 per month. In March 2000, Edwards was charged with failing to pay any of his child support obligation for one year. He pleaded not guilty, and his case was set for a court appearance on August 25, 2000. Erica stayed with her father, his wife and their two children for three weeks prior to August 22, 2000, at their St. Louis city home. When Erica did not hear from her mother by August 23, and Cantrell did not arrive to pick Erica up, Erica called her aunt. The aunt went to Cantrell's home and found her dead, shot twice in the head at close range. Cantrell's 12-year-old neighbor told police he heard shots and a woman's scream early in the evening of August 22, and his older brother had seen a black man with a black backpack banging on Cantrell's door that afternoon.
Ortell Wilson, a tenant in one of Edwards' rental properties who matched the boy's description ultimately was arrested for and convicted of murdering Cantrell. Wilson implicated Edwards in the murder, and Edwards was arrested August 27, 2000. Edwards waived his Miranda rights and told police he had hired someone named "Michael" to kill Cantrell for $1,600 and that Edwards had helped in the murder.The jury found Edwards guilty of first-degree murder, found the existence of one statutory aggravating circumstance and recommended the death penalty. The court sentenced Edwards to death, and he appeals.
On February 9, 1989, at about 9:00 p.m., Melvin Hedrick met Jeffrey Ferguson and a friend, Kenneth Ousley, at Ferguson's home. Ferguson asked Hedrick if he would be interested in buying a .32 caliber pistol. Although Hedrick said that he was not interested, he suggested that they take the pistol with them because they might be able to sell it at a bar. Ferguson and Hedrick then made their way to Brother's Bar in St. Charles, where they stayed for about forty-five minutes to an hour. At the bar, Hedrick began to feel ill, and Ferguson arranged for Ousley to meet them at a Shell service station on 5th Street, near Interstate 70. Between 10:50 and 10:55 p.m., Ferguson and Hedrick made the short trip to the Shell station, where Ousley was waiting in Ferguson's brown and white Blazer. Ferguson put the .32 caliber pistol in his waistband and then walked toward the passenger side of the Blazer as Hedrick left for home. Seventeen-year-old Kelli Hall, the victim in the case, worked at a Mobil service station across the street from the Shell station where Ousley and Ferguson met. Hall's shift was scheduled to end at 11:00 p.m., and at about that time, one of Hall's co-workers, Tammy Adams, arrived at the Mobil station to relieve her. A few minutes later, Robert Stulce, who knew Hall, drove up to the Mobil station to meet a friend and noticed Hall checking and recording the fuel levels in the four tanks at the front of the station. Stulce also saw a brown and white Blazer, which he later identified as identical to Ferguson's Blazer, pull in front of him and stop in the parking lot near Hall. When Stulce looked again, Hall was facing a white male who was standing between the open passenger door and the body of the Blazer. The man stood very close to Hall and appeared to have one hand in his pocket and the other hand free. Stulce then saw Hall get into the back passenger seat of the vehicle.
In the meantime, Hall's boyfriend, Tim Parres, waited for her in his car, which he had parked behind the station. After waiting for Hall for about half an hour, Parres went inside the station looking for her, but to no avail. He and Tammy Adams then determined that Hall was not at home, but that her purse was still at the station, and at that point they called the police. Early on the morning of February 22, Warren Stemme was working on his farm in the Missouri River bottoms. As he walked by a machinery shed, he discovered Kelli Hall's body, frozen, clothed only in socks, and partially obscured by steel building partitions that had been leaned up against the shed.
Earl M. Forrest II
In December 2002, Earl Forrest, who had been drinking, went to Harriet Smith's home and demanded that she fulfill her part of a bargain to buy a lawn mower and a mobile home for Forrest in exchange for Forrest introducing her to a source for methamphetamine. During the ensuing melee, Forrest shot a guest of Smith's, Michael Wells, in the face, killing him. Forrest also shot Smith six times, killing her. He took $25,000 worth of methamphetamine from Smith's home and returned to his own home, where he had a shootout with law enforcement officers. He shot and killed Deputy Joann Barnes. He also shot his girlfriend, Angela Gamblin, and Sheriff Bob Wofford, both of whom survived. He was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, and the jury found him guilty on all three counts. The jury subsequently recommended a death sentence for each of the three murders.
Joseph P. Franklin
In September of 1977, believing that Jews were "enemies of the white race," Franklin drove to Dallas, Texas after robbing a bank in Little Rock, Arkansas. In Dallas, Franklin bought a 30-06 rifle with a telescopic sight. He then drove to St. Louis, Missouri, checked into a hotel, scouted the city for synagogues, and finally chose Brith Shalom Kneseth Israel Congregation in Richmond Heights.
To prepare for the crime, Franklin bought some ten-inch nails, a guitar case and a bicycle. He tested the bicycle to assure himself that is could be used to enable him to leave the scene of the crime. He drove the nails into a telephone pole to serve as a rifle rest. Later, he ground the serial number off the rifle. He then cleaned the rifle, ammunition and guitar case of any fingerprints and, thereafter, he used gloves to handle the equipment. Lastly, he put the rifle into the guitar case and hid them both in some bushes near the synagogue. On October 8, 1977, Franklin waited outside the synagogue for people to emerge. Shortly before 1:00 p.m., some of the guests left the synagogue and walked toward their cars. Franklin began firing on the guests. He fired five shots from approximately one hundred yards. Gerald Gordon was shot in the left side of his chest and later died from blood loss resulting from damage to his lung, stomach, spleen, and other internal organs. Steven Goldman was grazed on the shoulder. William Ash was wounded in the left hand and later lost his small finger on that hand. Having fired all his ammunition, Franklin abandoned the rifle and the guitar case. He then rode his bicycle to a nearby parking lot where his automobile was parked, hid the bicycle in some bushes and left St. Louis by car.
Mark Anthony Gill
The victim, Ralph Lee Lape, Jr., lived alone in rural Cape Girardeau County. During the summer of 2002, Mr. Lape allowed Gill to live in a camper trailer on his property as a favor to a mutual friend. Mr. Lape spent the Fourth of July holiday weekend at Kentucky Lake, while Gill and a friend, Justin Brown, remained at Mr. Lape's home. During this time, Brown looked through Mr. Lape's personal papers and learned that he had a large amount of money in his bank account. Brown and Gill decided that they would kill Mr. Lape for his money, and on Saturday, July 6, they began preparations for the killing. They obtained a .22 pistol from Mr. Lape's home and bought a roll of duct tape, and they decided to "get him" in the garage because "once you pull in the garage can't nobody see." Mr. Lape arrived home from Kentucky Lake on Sunday, July 7, at approximately 5:30 p.m. Gill and Brown, who were waiting in the garage, opened the garage door for him. After Mr. Lape stepped out of his extended cab pickup truck, Gill and Brown "grabbed him," and Gill told Mr. Lape that they "just wanted his money." Mr. Lape pleaded to Gill, "You don't have to do this…I'll give you what you want. Mark, I ain't done nothing but try to help you." Gill and Brown then bound Mr. Lape with plastic ties and the duct tape. They pushed up the backseat of Mr. Lape's truck and "slid him in." They divided $240 they found in a ziplock bag that Mr. Lape had been carrying. Gill then put shovels in the back of the truck because he "knew what [he] was fixin' to do, [he] was going to hell." Gill drove the truck south on Interstate 55 as Brown held Mr. Lape down on the floorboard. After finding Mr. Lape's ATM bankcard in the truck, Gill asked him for the pin number, and he told them the number "right off." Gill and Brown drove Mr. Lape approximately 80 miles to a desolate cornfield near Portageville, where they took turns "knocking down corn" and "digging a hole." While one of them dug the hole, the other sat in the truck and watched Mr. Lape. After digging the hole, they took Mr. Lape out of the truck and removed the duct tape and plastic ties. Ignoring Mr. Lape's pleas for mercy, Gill and Brown pushed him into the hole. Then one of them pointed the .22 pistol at Mr. Lape and pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. The trigger was pulled a second time, but there was another misfire. On the third try, the gun fired and shot Mr. Lape in the forehead, killing him. Gill and Brown then "lined him up in the hole" and removed all of his clothing and jewelry. Before they buried Mr. Lape, Brown "stepped on his head" in order to make it fit in the hole. An autopsy revealed that, in addition to the gunshot wound, Mr. Lape had a skull fracture that was "not caused by the bullet," three separate bruises on his head, bruising in his chest, and one of his ribs was completely broken in two.
After killing Mr. Lape, Gill and Brown changed clothes back at the house and withdrew money from Mr. Lape's bank account with his ATM card. They then drove to St. Louis, withdrew more money, and spent nearly a thousand dollars of the money at strip clubs. After spending the night at the Adam's Mark hotel in St. Louis, Gill and Brown drove back to Mr. Lape's house, stopping along the way to withdraw more money from Mr. Lape's bank account. Once at the house, Gill and Brown began to dispose of the evidence. They dumped the shovels in a wooded area and burned their clothing and the clothing they had removed from Mr. Lape's body. They threw the gun, Mr. Lape's jewelry, and other evidence that would not burn into the Mississippi River. Then they drove to Paducah, Kentucky, abandoned Mr. Lape's truck in a hospital parking lot, and returned to Mr. Lape's house. When Mr. Lape's family members inquired about his whereabouts, Gill and Brown told them that he was at Kentucky Lake.
Having withdrawn nearly all of the money from Mr. Lape's bank account that was accessible with an ATM card, Gill and Brown used Mr. Lape's computer to transfer $55,000 from another account to the ATM-accessible account. After a friend told Gill that there is no limit in Las Vegas on the amount of money that can be withdrawn from an ATM, Gill and his girlfriend drove there and were married. Gill withdrew approximately $1,600 from Mr. Lape's account while on the trip. Ultimately, Gill was arrested in New Mexico. He initially denied any involvement in Mr. Lape's disappearance and claimed he had permission to use the ATM card. However, he later confessed to planning and participating in the murder, but claimed it was Brown who shot Mr. Lape.
Update: Missouri Supreme Court Tossed Death Sentenced on 12/1/09.
Joan Crotts, a widow in her sixties, lived alone next door to a boardinghouse in St. Louis County. In the summer of 1996, defendant moved into the boardinghouse. During defendant's short stay at the residence, he frequently harassed Mrs. Crotts and instigated a number of verbal confrontations with her. Typically, the incidents only involved vulgar insults by the defendant, directed toward Mrs. Crotts. Eventually, defendant's behavior intensified for the worse. One day in August, defendant and several friends assembled and began drinking in the back yard of the boardinghouse. They began throwing chicken bones to Mrs. Crotts' dogs and proceeded to toss beer cans over the fence into her yard. Mrs. Crotts, upset by the activity, came out to complain and began yelling at the defendant and his friends, telling them to stop and quit harassing her. In response, defendant picked up a sledgehammer, smashed a rock with it, and threatened Mrs. Crotts, saying "this is your head...if you keep messing with me." Following some harsh words from defendant and his companions, the episode ended without further incident. Later that day, Mrs. Crotts left her house in order to attend a barbecue down the street. Apparently, she crossed through the front yard of the boardinghouse, and defendant walked down the driveway and began chastising Mrs. Crotts for walking across the lawn. He threatened her by saying, "Get your fat ass back in the house, bitch. I've got one coming for you." At that point, Mrs. Crotts' daughter, accompanied by an acquaintance, approached them and told defendant to leave her mother alone. Nothing more happened until that evening, when defendant was evicted from the boardinghouse. When Mrs. Crotts stepped out on her front porch to see what all the commotion was about, defendant yelled at her, "I'm going to get you for this, bitch." According to Mrs. Crotts' daughter, defendant blamed Mrs. Crotts for his eviction. Approximately a year and a half later, in the early morning hours of March 1, 1998, Mrs. Crotts let her dogs outside. The dogs ran through an open gate in her backyard, making her suspect someone had been in the yard during the night. She investigated and found that, in addition to the open gate, a step on her back porch was out of place and that papers she kept in her new car were lying on the ground. Fearing that someone had been on her property and had tampered with her car, Mrs. Crotts contacted the police. When a police officer arrived, he walked around the house and patrolled the neighborhood in his vehicle, but found nothing amiss. Mrs. Crotts remained awake, talked with her daughter on the phone and prepared to go to church.
Meanwhile, defendant, who originally opened the backyard gate, entered Mrs. Crotts' house through an unlocked back door, sat on a chair in the basement and smoked a cigarette. Several hours passed. Eventually, defendant, carrying a hammer, climbed the basement stairs and confronted Mrs. Crotts in her kitchen. He grabbed Mrs. Crotts arm and pushed her into the living room. They sat down on the living room couch and began talking. Mrs. Crotts asked whether he wanted money or jewelry. Defendant said "[N]o." He rose from the couch and forced Mrs. Crotts into an adjacent room. After collecting his thoughts, he pushed her into the rear bedroom. Once inside the bedroom, defendant pushed her over the bed, and they laid down next to one another. Defendant exposed his penis and tried to force her to perform oral sex. Defendant, however, was unable to maintain an erection, and pushed Mrs. Crotts back into the kitchen. As Mrs. Crotts looked out the back door window, defendant opened the refrigerator. He looked inside and found a two-liter Pepsi bottle. He pulled out the bottle and took a drink. He found some paper and a pen on the kitchen table and wrote "You are next" on the paper. Then, he seized Mrs. Crotts from behind and forced her to the open door leading to the basement stairs. He shoved her down the stairs, and she fell to the concrete basement floor. Mrs. Crotts lay face down on the concrete, unmoving. Defendant began to descend the steps, and picked up a hammer by his boot. After observing Mrs. Crotts for a time, he struck her in the back of the head several times with the hammer. He tossed the hammer toward the back of the basement, exited via the same back door through which he had entered and proceeded to Mrs. Crotts' backyard. He passed through the same gate he opened before and walked to his new home, no more than one mile away.
Brandon S. Hutchison
On December 31, 1995, Freddie Lopez and his wife Kerry Lopez, threw a small New Year’s Eve party in the garage adjacent to their house. Ronald and Brian Yates arrived at the party shortly after midnight. They were looking for their brother, Tim Yates, who had already left. Freddie Lopez invited them to stay for a few beers. During the party several of the guests became intoxicated, including Hutchison. Freddie Lopez and Ronald Yates shared a line of methamphetamine. Hutchison caused a minor disturbance when he punched another guest, Jeremy Andrews, for no apparent reason. Andrews also observed Hutchison making shooting motions with his hand towards the Yates brothers.
At about 4:00 a.m. Freddie and Kerry Lopez went into the house to continue an argument that they had started in the garage about how much alcohol Kerry was drinking. Several of the party-goers went home, leaving only Hutchison, Michael Salazar, and Ronald and Brian Yates in the garage.
About twenty minutes later, Hutchison ran into the house and pounded on the Lopez’s bedroom door, saying that "something bad had happened in the shop." Salazar called for Freddie Lopez from the porch. When Lopez came out, Salazar was holding a .25 caliber revolver. He told Lopez that he had shot someone. Lopez entered the garage and saw both Yates brothers lying on the floor. Salazar told Lopez that one of the brothers had tried to stab him.
Autopsies of the brothers shows that they had been shot a point blank range with a .25 caliber gun. The bullet that his Ronald Yates lodged in his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down. Brian Yates sustained a relatively minor bullet wound to the chest and a more serious one to the stomach. Medical evidence established that both brothers were still alive, however, when Lopez found them on the garage floor he testified that he saw Ronald Yates gasp. Hutchison insisted that nobody call an ambulance and that Ronald Yates was already dead. He then suggested that they remove the brothers from the garage in Lopez’s white Honda Accord. Hutchison and Salazar put Ronald Yates in the trunk first, then Hutchison put Brian Yates in the trunk on top of Ronald after dragging him by his shoulders, dropping him on the floor, and kicking him in the upper body. Meanwhile, Salazar went into the house to fetch a drug scale and a .22 caliber handgun which he also put in the car. The three men took off in the car with Hutchison driving. After driving for a short time, they pulled over on the side of a dirt road. Hutchison and Salazar got out and walked to the back of the car. Lopez testified that as Hutchison climbed out of the car, he held the .22 caliber pistol and said "we got to kill them, we got to kill them." Lopez heard several gunshots and then Hutchison and Salazar got back into the car. Lopez testified that Hutchison was still clutching the gun when he returned to his seat. At around 8:00 a.m., Ronald and Brian Yates’ dead bodies were found on the side of the road. Both had died of execution-style gunshot wounds to the head from .22 caliber bullets. Ronald Yates had sustained a shot in each eye and one to the back of the head. Brian Yates had sustained one shot in the right eye and on in the right ear.
Hutchison and Salazar were apprehended several days later in California.
At eleven o’clock, the morning of Saturday, February 12, 1994, Johnson bought a bottle of beer and a package of cigarettes at a Columbia, Missouri convenience store of which he was a frequent customer. He went to the store a second time later that day, but did not make a purchase. On one of these trips, he questioned the cashier about who would be working the next shift. The cashier told Johnson that she would be relieved at 5:00 p.m. by Mabel Scruggs and that the store would close at 11:00 p.m. Johnson left and returned a short time later, but stayed only a few minutes before leaving again. Just before the shift change at 5:00p.m., Johnson went to the store a fourth time, this time carrying a book bag over his shoulder. The cashier noticed Johnson staring at her while she deposited the money from her shift into the store safe. He did not do anything. Johnson went to his girlfriend’s house and purchased a twenty-dollar rock of crack cocaine from his girlfriend’s eighteen-year-old son, Rodriguez Grant. Johnson left and then later returned to buy two more rocks. He asked Rodriguez to lend him the .25 caliber pistol Johnson had given to him a couple of weeks earlier in exchange for crack cocaine. Rodriguez agrees, and he and Johnson test fires the pistol in the back yard. Johnson returned the gun a while later, claiming that it did not work. Still later, Johnson retrieved the gun and left again, wearing layers of clothing, a mask over his face, and black tennis shoes. Since January of 1994, Johnson had confided to Rodriguez his plans to hold up the convenience store, locking all but one employee in the back room and having the remaining employee open the safe. The next time Johnson returned to the house, from the direction of the convenience store, around 11:45 p.m., his face and clothes were spattered with blood. He came in through the back door and went downstairs to Rodriguez’s room. Johnson gave the pistol back to Rodriguez. Johnson then cleaned his tennis shoes, took off his clothes, put the clothes into a trash bag, and told his girlfriend’s sixteen-year-old son, Antwane Grant, to get rid of the bag. Johnson had a large amount of money sorted by denomination and he and Rodriguez counted it. Johnson then hid the money in an air vent. Rodriguez went back upstairs and soon smelled something burning. On returning downstairs, he found Johnson burning paper. At 1:12 a.m. the following morning, a deputy sheriff responded to a call to check on the convenience store for the possibility of a disturbance involving weapons. The store lights were still on. Through the windows, the officer saw that the cash register was open and the money vault was out and in the middle of the floor. He observed blood smears on the front door lock. City police officers arrived with the keys. Upon entering, they discovered two dead bodies and a .25 caliber shell casing in the bathroom. Another body and another .25 caliber shell casing were found inside the walk-in cooler. The safe was empty.
All three victims were store employees: Mary Bratcher, age 46; Fred Jones, age 58; and Mabel Scruggs, age 57. Each victim died from head injuries that were consistent with a bloody hammer found at the scene. In addition, Mary Bratcher suffered at least ten stab wounds to her left hand consistent with a bloody flat-head screwdriver found in a field neat the store, and Fred Jones suffered a nonfatal, facial gunshot wound.
A six-year-old girl disappeared in July 2002 from her Valley Park home after Johnny Johnson stayed the night in the home. That morning, Johnson awoke to find the girl standing near the couch on which he had been sleeping. He took the girl, still in her nightgown, to an abandoned glass factory nearby that is surrounded by wooded areas and a series of trails. He took the girl into a pit with walls more than 6 feet high, exposed himself, tore off the girl's underwear and forced her to the ground. He attempted to rape her and then hit her in the head with a brick multiple times. Eventually, he knocked her to the ground and fractured the right side of her skull. Because she still was moving, Johnson lifted a basketball-sized boulder and brought it down on the girl's head and neck. She stopped breathing soon after. Johnson buried the girl with rocks, leaves and debris from the pit, then went to the nearby Meramec River to wash blood and other evidence from his body. Police found Johnson and took him to the police station, where he was identified by a witness who had seen him carrying the girl earlier in the morning. He signed a waiver form after being advised of his rights and told police he wanted to make a statement. After several hours of denying seeing or being with the girl that morning, Johnson ultimately told police the girl was in the old glass factory and that she had died in an accident. Before police were able to find the girl's body, a private citizen who had joined the search for the girl chanced upon her body in the pit. A detective who investigated the scene told Johnson he did not believe the girl's death was an accident. Johnson told the detective that he had exposed himself to the girl and had pulled down her underwear and killed her only after they both began "freaking out." He did not admit that he intended to take the girl, rape her or kill her before entering the pit. Around 11:30 that night, while Johnson was awaiting booking, he began discussing the Bible and eternal salvation with another police detective. Johnson admitted he had not been completely honest to that point, returned to police headquarters, again waived his rights, and made verbal and audiotaped statements in which he admitted that he intended to take the girl to have sex with her and then kill her. An autopsy showed the girl died from blunt force injuries to her head. At trial, Johnson did not deny killing the girl but disputed that he deliberated before doing so. He also presented a diminished capacity defense asserting that he could not deliberate because of schizo-affective disorder that caused command hallucinations telling him to rape and kill the girl. The jury convicted Johnson of first-degree murder, armed criminal action, kidnapping and attempted forcible rape. It recommended a sentence of death for the murder conviction, finding all three statutory aggravating factors presented by the state. It recommended life sentences for the remaining convictions. In accord with the jury's recommendations, the court sentenced Johnson to death for the murder and, as a persistent offender, to consecutive life sentences for the other crimes.
This summary is not part of the opinion of the Court (11/7/06). It has been prepared by the Communications Counsel for the convenience of the reader. It has been neither reviewed nor approved by the Supreme Court and should not be quoted or cited. The opinion of the Court, which may be quoted, follows the summary.
Johnson was sentenced to death in November 2007 for the 2005 shooting death of Kirkwood Police Sgt. William McEntee.
On Friday, January 11, 1991, just before 6:30 a.m., eleven-year-old Elissa Self left her house at 3844 Humphrey Street in South St. Louis to walk less than three blocks to catch her bus to Enright Classical Junior Academy, a school for gifted children. It was a cold, rainy morning, and Elissa's mother insisted that she wear boots and carry an umbrella. Elissa never arrived at school, and at about 8:20 a.m. the school called Elissa's parents to tell them that Elissa was not present. Elissa's parents drove around the neighborhood looking for her, but they were unable to find her, and they went home and called the police. During the next four days, police canvassed the neighborhood, interviewed possible witnesses, and investigated calls and letters on possible sightings. On Tuesday, January 15, 1991, two persons who were scavenging at the Black Bridge recreation area along the St. Francis River, 135 miles south of St. Louis in Wayne County, found Elissa's body in a large pile of debris that had washed up on the riverbank. Police soon searched the area and found Elissa's boots, but none of her other belongings. At about 9:24 p.m., on January 26, 1991, eleven days after Elissa's body was found, a City of Kirkwood police officer saw Martin Link driving with a headlight out and attempted to pull him over. Link led the officer on a high-speed chase, eventually crashing his car into a telephone pole, and was then taken into custody. In a search of the car, officers found a jar of petroleum jelly with Link's fingerprints on the jar and flecks of blood embedded in the jelly. DNA tests conducted by two different labs showed that Link's DNA matched the DNA found in sperm cells on vaginal swabs taken from Elissa's body. The state's DNA expert set the odds of such a match at one in 6,600. The testing also revealed that Elissa's DNA matched the DNA in the blood found in the petroleum jelly jar seized from Link's car. The odds of that match were one in 48. The joint probability of both of these matches occurring by chance was less than one in 300,000.
Link did not testify at trial, but he called two witnesses who had reported seeing Elissa after 6:30 a.m. on January 11, 1991. He also called a detective who had worked with one of these witnesses to make a composite drawing of a man she allegedly saw with Elissa, but who did not resemble Link. He also called two witnesses who worked as buyers in the clothing industry to testify to the large number of cotton/ramie sweaters, like the one Elissa wore, that were imported every year. He called two DNA experts to testify that the DNA tests performed by the other two laboratories were faulty. In addition, one of the DNA experts and a third expert testified that the state's conclusions about the probabilities of Link's DNA being found in the sperm on the vaginal swab and Elissa's DNA being found in the blood in the petroleum jelly jar were incorrect. At the close of the evidence, instructions, and arguments, the jury found Link guilty of kidnapping, forcible rape, and murder in the first degree.