Two death penalty rulings from Missouri court

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled one convicted killer should die but another should live.

Condemned inmate Carmen Deck had claimed numerous mistakes were made during the sentencing phase of his trial for the murders of a couple from rural DeSoto, James and Zelma Long, in 19-96.. The court has unanimously refused to change his sentence from death to life without parole. The court says the judge did not abuse his discretion in handling of some parts of the trial and that Deck has failed to prove his punishment is unjust when compared to other murder cases. Deck still has other appeals. No execution date has been set.

In the second case, the court has blocked the execution of inmate Andrew Lyons, who killed three people in Cape Girardeau in 1992. The court, again in a unanimous opinion, says the evidence from a special master of the court supports claims that Lyons is mentally retarded, with an IQ of 61 to 70 and that his condition was documented before he achieved adulthood.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that mentally retarded people cannot be executed if their condition was diagnosed while still a minor.

Lyons used a shotgun to kill his estranged girlfriend, their 11-month old son, and the girlfriend’s mother.  The court has not reduced his sentence. It has only issued a writ forbidding the Corrections Department from executing him. [Bob Priddy, The Missourinet]