State of Missouri v. Winford L. Stokes

Cite as 638 SW 2d 715 (Mo.banc 1982)

Winford L. Stokes was executed on May 11, 1990

Case Facts:  On February 18, 1978, Stokes was staying with a woman named Darlene at a hotel in the city of St. Louis. That evening she had a date with a friend named Wilbert, and Stokes joined the two for dinner at the Heritage House and later arrived at a lounge called “Some Place Else” where victim Pamela R. Brenda was as well. Drink orders were delayed, so Stokes went to find a waitress. Soon thereafter, Stokes was seen dancing with the victim, and she returned to the table with him and introduced herself to Darlene and Wilbert. She joined the group which imbibed several rounds of drinks but it seems agreed that no one was intoxicated. At approximately 11:30 pm, Darlene and Wilbert announced they were ready to leave. Stokes asked Wilbert to go to the restroom with him where he said that he “would catch a ride home” as the victim had promised to take him.

On Tuesday, February 21, 1978, the manager of the apartment building used his pass-key to allow a serviceman to enter the victim’s apartment. When they entered a back bedroom, they discovered her nude body sprawled on the floor with a pillow or pillow case over her head and an apron wrapped around her neck. The police were called and her employer arrived later to identify the body. The apartment was in disarray with the bedroom ransacked, and the police remained nearly eight hours collecting evidence. Several latent fingerprints were lifted from different objects in the room and four prints were determined later to be those of Stokes.

The next day an autopsy was performed and the cause of death was determined to be manual strangulation and that death had occurred more than one day prior to the autopsy.