State of Missouri v. Frederick Lashley

Cite as 667 SW 2d 712 (Mo.banc 1984)

Frederick Lashley was executed on July 28, 1993

Case Facts:  The victim, Janie Tracy, lived alone in a downstairs apartment in the City of St. Louis. She had heart trouble, diabetes and a neuromuscular problem that caused her to limp and required her to use a walking cane. She had difficulty walking since she had undergone a brain operation a number of years ago. The operation had resulted in the removal of a portion of her skull on the left side of her head. Lashley had lived with and been cared for by Miss Tracy from the time he was two until he was sixteen. He had been present on occasions when there had been discussions concerning the soft spot on Miss Tracy’s head.

On the night of April 9, 1981, Miss Tracy was visiting her sister who lived several blocks from her apartment. Sometime before 8:30pm, Lashley entered the apartment by climbing through the top of a window on the rear porch. He unscrewed the light bulb in the front room so that the light would not come on when the switch was turned on. His admitted purpose was to ambush Miss Tracy and take her money when she returned home. Lashley, armed with a cast iron skillet waited in the dark in the bedroom adjacent to the front room. (There was also evidence that a knife was involved )

When Miss Tracey returned home and entered the front door of the apartment she attempted to turn on the light. When the light did not come on she started into the room where Lashley was waiting. As she reached for the light switch he struck her in the head with the cast iron skillet, breaking it into two pieces. Lashley took fifteen dollars and car keys from Miss Tracy’s purse, locked the front door and drove off in the victim’s car. He was apprehended while driving the stolen vehicle shortly after midnight.

Hospital records showed Miss Tracy was comatose and brain dean when she arrived at the hospital. She had a cut on her head above the right ear and a one-inch incision above her left ear where the knife entered her skull through the soft spot and penetrated her brain.