State of Missouri v. Bruce Kilgore

771 S.W. 2d 57 (Mo. banc 1989)

Bruce Kilgore was executed on June 16, 1999

Case Facts
: On August 25, 1986 Willie Luckett, an employee at the Cristos restaurant in St. Louis, was fired after co-worker Marilyn Wilkins had advised management that he was stealing food. On August 27, 1986, Luckett, his girlfriend Renee Dickerson and Bruce Kilgore developed a scheme to rob Ms. Wilkins. That evening Kilgore and Luckett drove to the restaurant in a borrowed car and waited for Ms. Wilkins to leave. Between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Ms. Wilkins left the restaurant. Before ms. Wilkins could get to her automobile, Kilgore and Luckett pulled beside her and Luckett forced her into their car.

Kilgore drove the car to Kinloch, Missouri, a town in north St. Louis County. During the drive Luckett held Ms. Wilkins’ face down in the back seat of the car and ordered her to remove her rings. Luckett removed a stocking mask he was wearing when Ms. Wilkins recognized his voice. Luckett told Ms. Wilkins she would be killed because she recognized him.

On August 28, 1986 Kilgore, Luckett and Luckett’s cousin, Lessie Vance drove to a pawn shop where they sold two of five rings taken from Ms. Wilkins on the night of the murder. Kilgore and Luckett split the money received for the rings. Later that evening Luckett and Kilgore decided to move Ms. Wilkins’ body because they felt it was too close to Luckett’s residence in Kinloch. The body was later found on August 29, 1986 in Forest Park in St. Louis.

Ms. Wilkins died as a result of a laceration to the throat, five and one-half inches wide by three and one-half inches deep. The wound was triangular in shape and severed the jugular veins on both sides of her neck and caused severe damage to the trachea. Ms. Wilkins also suffered several other stab wounds to the neck and back, and lacerations to her right hand which appeared to occur while she was defending herself.

On September 3, 1986 Kilgore and Luckett were arrested for the murder of Marilyn Wilkins. During the trial Renee Dickerson testified that Kilgore told her that he had slit Ms. Wilkins’ throat.

Legal Chronology:

06/29 – Kilgore was sentenced to three concurrent seven year sentences from St. Louis City for three counts of Robbery Second Degree. 

8/27-Bruce Kilgore and Willie Luckett murdered Marilyn Wilkins in St. Louis, Missouri.
9/11-Kilgore is charged by indictment with Murder First Degree, Robbery First Degree and Kidnapping.

8/17-Trial began in St. Louis City Circuit Court.
8/23-Kilgore is convicted of Murder First Degree, Robbery First Degree and Kidnapping.
8/25-The jury recommends the death penalty as the sentence for the murder conviction.
10/23-The court sentences Kilgore to death.
10/27-Kilgore filed an appeal with the Missouri State Supreme Court.

9/13-Kilgore filed a motion with the Missouri State Supreme Court for post conviction relief.

5/17-The Missouri State Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and sentence.
7/14-The Circuit Court denied Kilgore’s motion for post conviction relief.
10/2-The United States Supreme Court denied discretionary review of Kilgore’s state court appeal.
10/6-Kilgore filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

6/19-The Missouri State Supreme Court affirmed the denial of post conviction relief.

7/21-The United States District Court for Eastern Missouri denied Kilgore’s habeas corpus petition.

9/8-The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s decision denying federal habeas corpus relief.
12/31-Kilgore filed a second post conviction relief petition in the St. Louis City Circuit Court.

3/9-The United States Supreme Court declined to review Kilgore’s habeas case.
4/3-The St. Louis City Circuit Court dismissed the second post conviction relief petition.
12/22-The Missouri State Supreme Court affirmed the denial of the second post conviction motion.

4/26-The United States Supreme Court declined to review the Missouri Supreme Court’s decision.
5/13-The Missouri State Supreme Court issued an order and warrant setting Kilgore’s execution for June 1 6, 1999.