State of Missouri v. Leamon White

873 S.w. 2d 590 (Mo.banc 1994)

In 2004 a federal judge ruled that White’s legal counsel had been ineffective and overturned the conviction.  In January, this year, the U. S. Supreme Corut upheld the judge’s ruling.

Case Facts:  On January 5, 1987, White went with his friend Roger Buckner to the home of the victims, Don Wright and Carol Kinney. Also present was the third victim, Earnest Black, a guest in the home. The purpose of White’s visit was to obtain some crack cocaine. Wright had previously promised to get the cocaine and sell it to White. When White and Buckner arrived, they discussed the crack deal with Wright.

During the discussion Cleveland Ford, another of White’s friends, came into the house unannounced through the back door and claimed to associated with White and Buckner. At this point, the three purported drug buyers drew guns. White put his gun to Wright’s head and asked him where he kept his money and drugs. Wright said there were no drugs or money in the house. White and his companions then tied up Wright, Black, Kinney and Kinney’s two children.

The assailants beat Wright and Black with their guns, all the while unsuccessfully interrogating them about where the money and drugs could be found. According to the witnesses’ testimony, White declared that the three adults should die.

Ford held up Wright’s head while White slit his throat. Buckner then cut Kinney’s throat repeatedly, slicing her jugular vein. White, Buckner, and Ford then turned on the gas stove, extinguished the pilot lights and left the apartment. Wright died from strangulation asphyxiation. Black and Kinney survived this vicious attack and later identified White, Buckner, and Ford as their attackers.