Category Archives: News

Smulls execution “a travesty”

One of those who watched the state execute prison inmate Herbert Smulls late last night (January 29) calls the execution “a travesty of justice.” The person making that charge is not one of Smulls’ supporters. It’s one of his victims.

Herbert Smulls died 253 months after getting his death sentence for killing Chesterfield jeweler Stephen Honickman during a 1991 robbery. Although Honickman’s wife, Florence, was shot twice, she survived by playing dead. She says waiting more than twenty years to execute a murderer while the state spends millions of dollars on the inmate is a travesty of justice for her and her family. She says the state has not paid for any of her expenses to attend the execution.

She says there should be no reason, in a “just and a rational legal system” why appeals should continue longer than ten years. She says she and her family are the ones who have suffered cruel and unusual punishment; by having to wait so long for justice to be done. She says the system needs to spend more time thinking of the victims and less about the murderers.

Audio: Post-execution news conference

Story by Bob Priddy, The Missourient. More stories »

Lawmakers revisit death penalty legislation

Two lawmakers who carried legislation dealing with the death penalty in 2013 are considering whether recent events would help or hinder such bills this year. Imperial representative Paul Wieland proposed in 2013 the repeal of the death penalty in Missouri. He thinks a report by St. Louis Public Radio that the Corrections Department is getting its execution drugs from an Oklahoma compounding pharmacy not licensed in Missouri raises questions about how the death penalty is administered.

More at

Supreme Court sets execution dates for Nicklasson, Franklin

Attorney General Chris Koster has announced in a press release that the Missouri Supreme Court had granted the State’s motion to set execution dates for Allen Nicklasson and Joseph Franklin, both of whom have exhausted all appeals in their death sentences. The Court has set Nicklasson’s execution for Oct. 23, 2013, and Franklin’s execution for Nov. 20, 2013.

“Last month, we renewed our request that the Court set execution dates for convicted murderers Joseph Franklin and Allen Nicklasson,” Koster said. “We are pleased that the Court has reexamined the issue, and granted the motions.  The death penalty remains a legal punishment in our state.  By setting these execution dates, the Court has taken an important step to see that justice is finally done for the victims and their families.”

Nicklasson was found guilty in 1996 of first degree murder for the death of “Good Samaritan” Richard Drummond.  Nicklasson was the trigger-man in the 1994 killing of Drummond, who had offered a ride to Nicklasson, Dennis Skillicorn and Tim DeGraffenreid after their car broke down on Interstate 70.  Skillicorn was executed in May 2009 for his role in the crime.

Franklin was convicted in 1997 for shooting and killing Gerald Gordon, who was standing in the parking lot of a St. Louis area synagogue after a bar mitzvah.  Franklin also was convicted of shooting two other men who were in the synagogue parking lot.  While Franklin will be executed for his crimes in Missouri, he also was convicted for the murder of two African-Americans in Utah, the murder of an interracial couple in Wisconsin, and the bombing of a synagogue in Tennessee.  Franklin also has claimed responsibility for the shooting of Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine.

Death sentence for Johnny A. Johnson upheld

The State Supreme Court has upheld the death sentence for Johnny A. Johnson, who is on death row for the kidnapping, attempted rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in 2002 near St. Louis. Johnson’s attorney had appealed the decision, saying the St. Louis circuit court erred in denying him post-conviction relief.

Johnson will remain on death row for abducting a girl from her Valley Park home, taking her to an abandoned glass factory, attempting to rape her and then beating her to death with bricks and a boulder.

At trial, Johnson did not deny killing the girl but disputed that he deliberated before doing so, blaming a schizo-affective disorder that caused command hallucinations telling him to rape and kill the girl. [The Missourinet]

Death sentence for Leonard Taylor upheld

The state supreme court has upheld the death sentence of prison inmate Leonard Taylor, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend and her three children in 2004. Taylor had claimed his lawyer proivided an inadequate defense. The court has rejected that argument. The children were ten, six, and five years old when they and their mother were shot to death at her home in St. Louis. Full decision of the court.