State of Missouri v. Dennis J. Skillicorn

944 S.W. 2d 877 (Mo.banc 1997)

Dennis Skillicorn was executed at 12:34 a.m., May 20, 2009

Dennis Skillicorn Case Facts: In late August 1994, Dennis Skillicorn, Allen Nicklasson, and Tim DeGraffenreid headed east from Kansas City to obtain illegal drugs. On August 23, 1994, during their return trip to Kansas City, the 1983 Chevrolet Caprice in which they were traveling broke down twenty-two miles east of the Kingdom City exit on I-70. An offer of assistance by a state trooper was refused. The next day they traveled 17 miles to the JJ overpass. They burglarized the nearby home of Merlin Smith, stole some guns and money, and used the stolen money to pay for a tow to Kingdom City. A garage in Kingdom City was unable to repair the extensive mechanical problems.

They drove back toward the site of the robbery and the car stalled again. Between 4 and 5 p.m., Richard Drummond, a technical support supervisor for AT & T saw the stranded motorists and offered to take them to use a phone. He was driving a white company car.

Skillicorn and Nicklasson were both armed. They loaded the booty from the Smith burglary into the trunk of Drummond’s car. While Nicklasson held a gun to Drummond’s head, Skillicorn asked Drummond questions in order to calm him down, including whether Drummond’s “old lady” was going to miss him. As Drummond drove east, Skillicorn “got to thinking…if we let this guy off, he’s got this car phone.” So they disabled the car phone. Skillicorn stated that he later determined they would have to “lose” Drummond in the woods. At some point during this time, Nicklasson and Skillicorn discussed what they should do with Drummond. Skillicorn, in his sworn statement, claimed that Nicklasson said “he was going to, you know, do something to this guy. I tell him -you know, now, we’re trying to talk on the pretenses that-that, uh, this guy in the front seat don’t hear us too. Right? Right. ‘Cause, uh, I didn’t want him panicking.”

They directed Drummond to exit I-70 at the Highway T exit. They proceeded four miles on to County Road 202 to a secluded area where they ordered Drummond to stop his vehicle. As Nicklasson prepared to take Drummond through a field toward a wooded area, Skillicorn demanded Drummond’s wallet. Knowing Nicklasson had no rope or other means by which to restrain Drummond and that Nicklasson carried a loaded .22 caliber pistol, Skillicorn watched as Nicklasson lead Drummond toward a wooded area. There, Nicklasson shot Drummond twice in the head. Skillicorn acknowledged hearing two shots from the woods and that Nicklasson returned having “already done what he had to do.” Drummond’s remains were found eight days later.

Dennis Skillicorn’s final written statement (PDF)

List of meds used in execution of Skillicorn (PDF)

Legal Chronolgy

December 2:  Skillicorn participates in the home invasion murder of Wendell Howell near Levasy, Missouri.  Skillicorn is sentenced to thirty-five years imprisonment, but is ultimately paroled.
August 23:  Skillicorn and accomplices launch a cross country crime spree involving, among other crimes, a murder in Missouri, two murders in Arizona and a murder in Mexico.
January 22 – February 2:  Skillicorn is tried  by a jury in Lafayette County, Missouri, convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death.
March 3:  Judge Ravenhill orders imposition of the death sentence recommended by the jury.
April 29:  The Missouri Supreme Court affirms the judgment of conviction and sentence in State v. Skillicorn, 944 S.W.2d 877 (Mo. banc 1997) cert. denied, Skillicorn v. Missouri, 522 U.S. 999 (Dec.
1, 1997).
August 25:  Skillicorn files pro se Rule 29.15 motion.
November 24:  Counsel files amended Rule 29.15 motion on Skillicorn’s behalf.
April 19:  The Circuit Court of Lafayette County holds a hearing on the Rule 29.15 motion.
June 21:  The Circuit Court of Lafayette County denies the Rule 29.15 motion.
June 13:  The Missouri Supreme Court affirms the denial of post-conviction relief in Skillicorn v. State, 22 S.W.3d 678 (Mo. banc 2000), cert denied, Skillicorn v. Missouri, 531 U.S. 1039 (Dec.4, 2000.).
July 30:  Skillicorn files federal habeas corpus petition in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri.
March 31:  The United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri denies the petition for habeas corpus. Skillicorn v. Luebbers, 4:00-CV-08002-NKL.
February 6:  The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirms the denial of habeas corpus relief in Skillicorn v. Luebbers, 475 F.3d 965 (8th Cir. 2007), cert. denied, 128 S.Ct. 297 (Oct. 1, 2007).