A major move from the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday, affecting the enforcement of the death penalty in Missouri. The court denied hearing the Clemons v. Crawford case. Attorney General Chris Koster explains the implications:
“The Missouri death penalty protocol has been tangled up in the federal courts on and off for more than two years now. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision should clear the final hurdles and legitimize the constitutionality of Missouri’s death penalty protocol and we can now go forward with these death penalty cases,” Koster said.
Executions in Missouri had been put on hold by the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals while the case was reviewed. That Court’s ruling led to the petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“The basic argument that was put forth in the Clemons v. Crawford case was that the three drug protocol caused paralysis but then one of the drugs that was injected into the defendant’s body would cause excruciating internal suffering prior to death. That case the federal courts decided was no proven, and the U.S. Supreme Court said that the Missouri three-drug protocol, the same standard that is used in most of the 50 state that have the death penalty, is constitutional,” Koster said.
He is wasting no time getting the process started again.
“We will now go back to the Missouri Supreme Court and in appropriate cases where all the federal appeals have been run, we will go ahead and ask the Missouri Supreme Court to set execution dates,” Koster said.
Koster says he’s already asked the Missouri Supreme Court to set an execution date for Joseph Franklin, a ‘neo-Nazi murderer’ who shot three people outside a St. Louis synagogue, killing one of them. Franklin also killed four other people in incidents in Utah and Wisconsin and bombed a synagogue in Tennessee.
Story by Ryan Famuliner, Missourinet.com [AUDIO :60]
State prison inmate Reginald Clemons was to have been executed during the night. But questions about the people who would perform the execution have kept him alive. The federal appeals court in St. Louis issued a stay June 5th on today's execution of Clemons after Clemons' lawyers raised questions about the execution protocol.
Courts seemingly had resolved issues about the constitutionality of the three-drug system used to execute prisoners in Missouri and in other states. But Clemons' lawyers have found a new angle and Attorney General Chris Koster does not expect the appeals court to rule until mid to late summer.
He says the stay has nothing to do with the facts in the case. Instead, he says, the questions are about the qualifications of the people who perform lethal injections at the Bonne Terre prison.
Missouri has executed one inmate, Dennis Skillicorn, since the courts found the system constitutional. Skillicorn was executed May 20th. Koster says Skillicorn raised the issue in his last hours but he and his lawyers did not have an appeal on this issue before the federal appeals court.
Clemons is under a death sentence for his part in the rapes and murders of two St. Louis sisters on a Mississippi River Bridge in 1991. One accomplice has been executed. Another is awaiting an execution date. The fourth man involved is serving life. [Missourinet.com/Bob Priddy]
AUDIO: Interview with AG Chris Koster
Attorney General Chris Koster has asked the state supreme court to set an execution date for Joseph Paul Franklin, who killed a man outside a St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
Koster says Franklin carefully planned the murder in Richmond Heights. He confessed to the murder in 1994. By then Franklin was serving six consecutive life sentences at a federal prison in Illinois. Franklin, who joined the neo-Nazi movement and the Ku Klux Klan, also has been convicted of murdering two African-American men in Utah, of killing an interracial couple in Wisconsin, and of bombing a synagogue in Tennessee. He also claims he is the one whose gunshots left Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt paralyzed.
He’s under a Missouri death sentence for murdering Gerald Gordon, and of wounding two other men in a synagogue parking lot after a Bar Mitzvah.
The 8th District Court of Appeals in St. Louis has stayed the execution of Reginald Clemons. His attorneys filed a motion for stay to allow time for the Western District Court of Appeals to rule on his challenge of Missouri’s execution procedures. He was to be executed on June 17th for the Chain of Rocks Bridge killings in 1991.
The state Attorney General’s Office has filed a motion to lift the stay stating that the issues brought up have been addressed before or should have been addressed before now. (More at STLToday.com)
The Supreme Court of Missouri just overruled the motion for stay of execution filed last week by Reginald Clemons. Download letter (PDF) overruling motion for stay