618 S.W. 2d 1 (Mo.banc.1981)
George C. Mercer was executed on January 6, 1989.
Audio: News conference with George C. “Tiny” Mercer (22 min)
Audio: Missourinet newscast following the execution of Mercer (3 min, mp3)
The case facts below contain strong and graphic language.
Case Facts: The evidence supports defendant’s conviction for the murder of Karen Keeten, a 22-year-old white female, in the early morning hours of August 31, 1978. It established that defendant, a 34-year-old white male, was drinking with friends at the Blue Seven Lounge in Grandview, Missouri, the evening before. Karen was working there as a waitress. During the evening, defendant made the comment that he would like to take her to bed. Steven Gardner, a friend of defendant who was acquainted with Karen, went up to the bar to talk to her. He returned a short time later and said he and Karen were going to breakfast and would go to defendant’s house afterward. Defendant left with David Gee, another friend, and went to defendant’s home in Belton, Missouri, arriving there around 12:30 a. m. John Campbell was at the house babysitting with defendant’s ten-year-old daughter. A short time later Gardner and Karen Keeton arrived.
After visiting for some time defendant picked up a sawed-off double-barreled shotgun, opened it to show the shells, walked over to Karen, tapped her on the head with the gun, and told her to “get her ass upstairs.” When she hesitated he grabbed her and pushed her to the stairway. She yelled for Gardner to help. He responded, “Happy Birthday, Tiny,” then turned to the others and said, “Seconds.” Karen’s dress was tossed downstairs with defendant telling Gardner to “put these clothes where they go, you know where they go.” Gardner put the clothes in a closet and pocketed the money from her purse.
Defendant later came downstairs; he was naked and had an erection. Gardner went upstairs. Defendant drank beer for awhile, showered and returned to the table to dry himself at which time he remarked what “a good piece of ass” she was and that he was going to go back and “fuck her in the butt.” Several minutes later, Gardner yelled for David Gee to come upstairs. Gee, followed by defendant and John Campbell, complied. Upstairs, defendant told Karen, who was lying naked on the bed, to undress Gee and “start sucking David Gee’s dick.” She performed as directed. After Gee answered, “Pretty good”, to defendant’s question about her performance, defendant said, “You leaky cunt, you’d better do it better.” When asked how she was doing now, Gee answered, “Better now.” Defendant, Gardner and Campbell returned downstairs. At this time, Karen stopped what she was doing, and Gee put his clothes on. Karen asked what was going to happen to her; Gee attempted to reassure her. When Gee returned downstairs, defendant told Campbell to get upstairs so they would all be in it together. Campbell proceeded upstairs and found Karen unclothed. She cried, and Campbell talked with her, trying to console her. He too returned downstairs.
Defendant started upstairs again as Gardner was leaving. He asked Gardner what he wanted done with Karen and Gardner replied, “Kill the bitch.” Defendant said, “Okay, brother.” Gardner asked if he would need any help; defendant said no, he would get rid of the body where it would not be found. Gardner and Gee left, defendant went upstairs, and Campbell went to sleep downstairs.
Campbell was suddenly awakened by defendant calling his name from upstairs. He responded and found defendant straddling Karen’s body with his hands on her throat. Defendant screamed at Campbell to take her pulse. Campbell grabbed the arm of Karen’s seemingly lifeless body and found a faint pulse. At the time he told defendant this, he could smell human waste, which was all over the bed. Defendant, “hollered”, struck the left side of Karen’s head, and said, “Die you bitch … This is a leaky cunt. Die.” He continued strangling her, and again screamed at Campbell to take her pulse. Campbell found no pulse. When Campbell reported this, defendant got off the bed, grabbed Karen’s legs, and pulled her off the bed. Defendant took the sheets and blanket to the washing machine and told Campbell to wipe the waste off the floor. Defendant came back and told Campbell to get his truck and put the tailgate down so he could put Karen in it. After Campbell complied, defendant brought the body down and put it in the truck. Campbell and defendant climbed in the truck and Campbell started driving at defendant’s direction.
Finally defendant had Campbell stop. Defendant got out and dumped the body over a fence into a field. When he returned he told Campbell, “Now, if I’d killed that leaky cunt 17-year-old like I did her … I wouldn’t have been on any rape charges and things I’m on right now.” At that time, defendant had a rape charge pending against him filed by a 17-year-old girl. Defendant and Campbell returned to defendant’s house where defendant gave Campbell the shotgun to hide, and burned Karen’s purse.
Three to four weeks later Campbell and his attorney looked for and found the badly decomposed body of Karen Keeton. They reported this to the authorities. The body was identified by means of her teeth.