State of Missouri v. Reginald Love Powell

798 S.W. 2d 709 (Mo. Banc 1990)

Reginald Love Powell was executed on February 25, 1998

Case Facts:  On November 14, 1986 Reginald Powell went to a liquor store with three other companions to obtain alcohol. When they arrived at the store, the quartet met with Freddie and Lee Miller. Powell asked the two brothers to purchase some liquor for him and his companions since they were all under age. The Miller brothers refused.

Later that evening, the four men once again ran into the Miller brothers in the backyard of a friend of Powell’s. The Miller brothers had been drinking and were intoxicated as was Powell who had been drinking earlier in the evening. Upon seeing the Miller brothers Powell mad a derogatory remark to them and called for his companions to rob them. One of the Millers called the group “punks” at which time the group attacked the brothers and knocked them to the ground. The Millers were brutally beaten by the group who kicked them, and hit them with bricks, boards and tree branches. At one point Lee Miller begged for his life.

Following the beating by the group, Reginald Powell jumped up and down on the chest of the two victims who were still laying on the ground breaking most of their ribs. Powell and two others searched the victims for valuables recovering only three dollars and a pack of cigarettes. The rest of the group left the scene leaving Powell alone with the two battered brothers. Powell then stabbed Freddie and Lee Miller three times each in the chest and abdomen with a martial arts butterfly knife. Both brothers died from internal bleeding caused by the stab wounds.

After stabbing the victims Powell caught up with the others carrying a bloody knife which he wiped off by sticking the blade in the ground. He told the others that he had “stuck” and “stabbed” the victims and said “Don’t bring no knife if you ain’t going to use it.”

The Police learned of Powell’s involvement in the murders form his step – brother. Police arrested Powell the next day and under questioning he admitted that he had committed the murders.

Legal Chronology


06/22 – Arrested for Receiving Stolen Property in St. Louis City. Suspended sentence and six months probation.
11/14 – Reginald Powell stabbed Freddie and Lee Miller to death during a robbery.
12/2 – Powell was charged in an indictment by the St. Louis City Circuit Court with two counts of murder first degree, two counts of robbery first degree and one count of armed criminal action.

3/16 – Powell’s trial begins in St. Louis Circuit Court for two counts of murder first degree. The other charges were not prosecuted.
3/25 – The jury finds Powell guilty of each count of murder first degree, but is unable to agree on a punishment.
4/15 – The trial court sentenced Powell to death on each count of murder first degree.
12/1 – Powell filed a motion for post-conviction relief in the St. Louis City Circuit Court.

4/10-11, 18 – A hearing is held in St. Louis Circuit Court on Powell’s motion for post-conviction relief.
10/13 – The Court denied Powell’s motion of post-conviction relief.

11/20 – The Missouri Supreme Court affirmed Powell’s convictions and sentences and the denial of post-conviction relief.


6/28 – The United States Supreme Court declined discretionary review.
7/5 – Powell filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District Court of Missouri.

8/15 – The U.S. District Court denied Powell’s habeas corpus petition.

5/1 – The U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s denial of Powell’s habeas corpus petition.

1/12 – The U.S. Supreme court declined discretionary review.
1/22 – The Missouri Supreme Court set Powell’s execution for February 25, 1998.