In a hearing aimed at negating Scott McLaughlin’s death sentence, family members and a DNA expert testified Monday that a relative of his might also be connected to the killing of his ex-girlfriend.
Lawyers for McLaughlin are presenting new evidence in a claim that he did not have effective legal representation when St. Louis County Circuit Judge Steven H. Goldman sentenced him to death.
McLaughlin, of Wright City, was convicted of abducting Beverly Guenther, 45, of Moscow Mills, from her workplace in Earth City and killing her in November 2003. In 2006, jurors found McLaughlin guilty of first-degree murder, rape and armed criminal action in the guilt phase of his trial but could not agree on punishment. Goldman ordered the capital sentence a month later.
SC90618 – Velda Rumfelt was murdered in 1977. There were ligature marks and a laceration around her throat. The medical examiner concluded that strangulation was the cause of death. No one was charged with the murder.
In 1979, Gregory Bowman was convicted in Illinois of killing Ruth Ann Jany and Elizabeth West and was sentenced to two concurrent terms of life imprisonment. In 2001, the convictions were vacated and new trials were ordered on grounds that Bowman’s confessions were coerced. Bowman remained in jail in Illinois until he posted bail in 2007.
Shortly after Bowman’s release from jail, James Rokita, an investigator with the Belleville, Illinois, police department, forwarded Bowman’s DNA profile to the St. Louis County police department. St. Louis County investigators compared Bowman’s DNA profile to the DNA profile extracted from sperm recovered from Rumfelt’s underwear. Bowman’s DNA profile matched the DNA profile of the sperm recovered from Rumfelt’s underwear. Bowman was charged with Rumfelt’s murder.
The State presented evidence that Bowman’s DNA was found in Rumfelt’s underwear. Dr. Mary Case, the St. Louis County medical examiner, testified that the cause of death was strangulation and that Rumfelt was the victim of a probable sexual assault. One of Rumfelt’s friends testified that she saw Rumfelt walking with an unidentified young man on the evening of June 5, 1977. Another friend testified that she saw Rumfelt on the morning of June 6, 1977. Rumfelt’s body was discovered on June 7, 1977. The jury convicted Bowman of first-degree murder.
Lance Shockley received the death sentence on Friday for the March 2005 murder of Sergeant Carl Dewayne Graham Jr., a Missouri state trooper. The sentence was handed down by Judge David P. Evans of the 37th Judicial Circuit.
The prosecution claimed Shockley ambushed Graham while the Sergeant was in his driveway. Graham had investigated a fatal traffic crash in which Shockley reportedly was involved and fled.
More on this story at Missourinet.com
The following description is from a story by Todd C. Frankel, published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on March 30, 2005:
Armed with a shotgun, a rifle and fresh directions to a state trooper’s home in the Missouri Ozarks, a 28-year-old man waited for the officer to get off work and then killed him, authorities said Tuesday.
Lance Shockley knew Sgt. Carl D. Graham was looking into his role in a fatal vehicle crash months ago, police said.
Graham was shot March 20 as he stepped out of his cruiser near Van Buren, Mo. He was hit once by a rifle bullet and then at least once by a shotgun blast, authorities said.
Shockley, 28, was charged Tuesday with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, nine days after more than 60 state and federal agents flooded this rural area perhaps best known for its proximity to the Current River.
Shockley was already in custody Tuesday after his arrest March 23 in the fatal accident. He’d been labeled “a person of interest” by the Missouri Highway Patrol in the shooting. Shockley was at the Carter County Courthouse for a hearing in that case when the murder charge was added.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Shockley borrowed his grandmother’s red Pontiac Grand Am on March 20 and that same day asked someone for directions to Graham’s residence. Police said several witnesses spotted a red Grand Am parked on a secluded gravel road just north of the trooper’s home that day.
Shockley owns several firearms, including .223-caliber and .224-caliber rifles and at least one 12-gauge shotgun, according to the affidavit. A search of Shockley’s house in Van Buren turned up a spent .22-caliber shell. A forensics comparison determined it matched a bullet pulled from Graham, police said.
On the night of July 25, 1997, Terrance Anderson went to the Poplar Bluff home of his girlfriend, Abbey Rainwater, with a gun. Earlier in the day, she had told him that she had gotten a restraining order to keep him away from her and their three-month-old daughter and that visitation would be arranged through the court. Anderson kicked in the door, and Abbey’s mother, Debbie, told her to run. Debbie, who was holding the child, got on her knees and begged for her life, but Anderson placed the gun against the back of Debbie’s head and fired it, killing Debbie instantly. Anderson subsequently took the child and went into the front yard. He pointed the gun at the baby’s head and yelled that he would shoot if Abbey did not come out. After Abbey’s father, Stephen, came home, Anderson approached Stephen, began talking to him, and shot Stephen in the forehead, killing him. Anderson still was holding the child at the time.
Anderson was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and was tried in Cape Girardeau County on a change of venue from Butler County. The jury found him guilty of both counts and recommended that he be sentenced to death for killing Debbie Rainwater and to life in prison without the possibility of probation or parole for killing Stephen Rainwater.
The court imposed the recommended sentences, and Anderson appeals.
In the early morning hours of July 12, 2001, police responded to the report of a traffic accident near Stafford. On their arrival, they found the victim’s car abandoned with the keys in the ignition and the engine running, the headlights and hazard lights on, and the driver’s window down. Police found the victim’s personal items in the vehicle, including her purse, credit card and medication.
After the evening news broadcast the victim’s disappearance, the owner of a motel near Camdenton recognized the victim’s picture as the woman who checked into a room with Mr. Zink. The motel owner provided the police with Mr. Zink’s motel registration card, and, using this information, the police apprehended Mr. Zink at his home. After police showed him evidence that placed him near the scene of the abduction, Mr. Zink waived his rights under Miranda v. Arizona,1 and confessed to killing and burying the victim. He led police straight to the spot in a cemetery where he said he buried the victim’s body, and the police discovered the body positioned just as Mr. Zink had described. Pathologists found that the victim’s neck was broken, she sustained injuries consistent with strangulation and being tied up, and she had eight broken ribs and between 50 and 100 blunt force injuries. Semen found in the victim’s anus matched Mr. Zink’s DNA, hair samples taken from Mr. Zink’s truck matched the victim’s hair, and paint left on the victim’s car from the accident matched paint from Mr. Zink’s truck.
In two videotaped confessions, Mr. Zink described the murder in detail. He said that he rear-ended the victim’s car on an exit ramp. In one confession, Mr. Zink told police that the victim voluntarily left the accident scene with him in his truck but later threatened to call police if he did not return her to her vehicle. In another confession, he said that he gave the victim no choice but to get in his truck, but that she willingly went with him after she was in the truck.
After he drove the victim around in his truck, they stayed for a short time at the motel near Camdenton. Mr. Zink then decided to kill the victim because he was worried he would go back to prison if she called the police. He took her to the cemetery and tied her to a tree. He told her to look-up, and then he broke her neck. He strangled her with his hands, and then with a rope, and stuffed her mouth with mud and leaves. He looked for a spot to bury her and then dragged her body to that spot with the rope. Because he was worried that she might revive, he stated that he stabbed the back of her neck with a knife to cut her spinal cord. He then covered the body with leaves, went home to get a shovel, and came back to the cemetery and covered the body with dirt.