State of Missouri v. Jessie Lee Wise

879 S.W.2d. 494 (Mo. banc 1994)

Jessie Lee Wise was executed May 26, 1999

Case Facts
: On the morning of August 27, 1988 Jessie Wise, who was working as a custodian in an apartment complex in Clayton, Missouri, went to the apartment of Mrs. Geraldine McDonald to discuss washing and waxing her car. Wise told Mrs. McDonald that he needed thirty dollars in advance and she declined. As Mrs. McDonald walked away, Wise took a pipe wrench, followed Mrs. McDonald down the hallway and struck her three or four times with the wrench in the back of the head. Wise took Mrs. McDonald’s money, jewelry and credit cards. Over the next two days, Wise returned to Mrs. McDonald’s apartment and took more jewelry. Wise also stole Mrs. McDonald’s automobile. Wise traded some of the jewelry for cocaine, gave some of the jewelry to his wife and pawned the rest of the items.

Mrs. McDonald’s husband and their two daughters found Mrs. McDonald’s body two days later laying face down in a pool of blood in the doorway to the master bedroom. Many of the drawers in the bedroom were open with several jewelry boxes on the floor. The pipe wrench was on a chair next to the body.

On August 30, 1988, police found Mrs. McDonald’s automobile parked about one block away from Wise’s residence in south St. Louis. As police interviewed Wise in his apartment they found Mrs. McDonald’s car keys on a bedroom table. They also recovered her credit cards from Wise’s jacket pocket and a pawn ticket, which later was used to track down some of the stolen jewelry.

During his interrogation at the police station Wise confessed to the crime. He told police that he was desperate for money and decided he would not leave the apartment empty handed. Wise also told police how he had returned to the apartment over the course of the next two days and stole more jewelry and her automobile. Police recovered one of Mrs. McDonald’s rings from Mrs. Wise and Wise’s fingerprints were found in Mrs. McDonald’s apartment and automobile.

On January 4, 1972 Wise was sentenced to life in prison for Murder First Degree from St. Louis, Missouri.

On March 15, 1991 Wise was sentenced to death on a Murder First Degree conviction from St. Louis County. He was also sentenced to consecutive sentences of life for Armed Criminal Action, Robbery First Degree, a consecutive 30 year sentence for Armed Criminal Action and a consecutive sentence of seven years for Stealing a Motor Vehicle.

Legal Chronology:

8/27 – Geraldine Rose McDonald is murdered by Jessie Wise. Afterwards, Wise took money, credit cards, and jewelry from Mrs. McDonald’s apartment. He later returned to the apartment where he took more jewelry and then stole her car.
9/7 – Wise is indicted for first degree murder, first degree robbery, two counts of armed criminal action and felony stealing.

12/4-12/12 – Wise tried by jury in St. Louis County Circuit Court and found guilty of murder first degree. The jury recommends a sentence of death

3/15 – Wise is sentenced to death.
3/28 – Wise files an appeal of his conviction and sentence.
8/28 – Wise files a motion for post-conviction relief.

3/2-3/3 – An evidentiary hearing is held in St. Louis County Circuit Court on Wise’s motion for post-conviction relief.
4/20 – Wise’s motion for post-conviction relief is denied by the court.

6/21 – Wise’s appeal for post-conviction relief is denied by the Missouri State Supreme Court.

2/10 – Wise files a habeas corpus petition in the United States District Court for Eastern Missouri.

9/27 – The habeas corpus petition is denied by the United States District Court for Eastern Missouri.
12/20 – Wise appeals the District Court’s ruling to the United States Court Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

2/20 – The United States Court Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals affirms the decision of the District Court of Appeals.

4/22 – The Missouri State Supreme Court sets and execution date of May 26, 1999 for Jessie Lee Wise