26 February 2014

Missouri heading for record number of executions

Missouri could be heading for a record number of executions in 2014 if a man convicted of abducting, raping and killing a teenager in 1989 is executed.


A man convicted of abducting, raping and killing a Kansas City teenager in 1989 will be executed by means of a lethal drug, provided by a new supplier – unless last-minute appeals manage to stay Missouri's fourth execution in as many months.

Michael Taylor was scheduled to die by injection at 12:01 am on Wednesday (0501 GMT). Appeals before the US Supreme Court and the Eighth US Circuit Court of Appeals sought a reprieve, while Governor Jay Nixon weighed a clemency request.

Overworked attorney

Taylor's attorneys have questioned Missouri's use of an unnamed compounding pharmacy to provide the pentobarbital for his execution. They have also raised concerns that the state executes people before appeals are complete, and claim Taylor's original trial attorney was so overworked that she encouraged him to plead guilty to lessen her own workload.

After years of using a three-drug execution method, Missouri switched to pentobarbital as a single fatal drug late last year. State officials say there were no outward signs of distress in three recent executions that all relied on a single dose of pentobarbital.

Last week, the Oklahoma-based Apothecary Shoppe agreed that it would not supply the pentobarbital for Taylor's execution.

Read:  US judge blocks sale of execution drug

Attorney General Chris Koster's office announced in a court filing that a new provider had been found, but has refused to name the pharmacy, citing the state's execution protocol that allows for the manufacturer to remain anonymous.

Taylor's attorneys say use of the drug without naming the compounding pharmacy could cause the inmate pain and suffering because no one can check if the operation is legitimate and has not been accused of any violations.

"We have no idea about the track record of this pharmacy," Taylor's attorney, John Simon, said.

Binging on crack cocaine

Taylor, 47, and Roderick Nunley were convicted of abducting, raping and killing the 15-year-old girl in Kansas City in 1989.

Ann Harrison was waiting for the school bus on the morning of March 22, 1989, when Nunley and Taylor, then in their early 20s, drove past in a car they had stolen after a night while binging on crack cocaine.

One of the men jumped out of the car and grabbed Ann, forcing her into the vehicle. Both have claimed the other did it.

The men drove to the home of Nunley's mother. Ann was forced into the basement and raped – DNA testing linked Taylor. Afraid she would be able to identify them, the men used kitchen knives to stab the girl repeatedly, even as Ann begged for her life and offered money if they would let her live. She died about 30 minutes later.

Taylor and Nunley put her in the trunk of the stolen car, abandoned the car in a neighbourhood then walked away.

Read: Death row schizo refusing meds

Record number of executions

The body was found three days later. A $10 000 reward led to a tip-off, and Taylor and Nunley were both arrested. Both pleaded guilty and were sentenced to death in 1991. After their sentences were overturned, they were again sentenced to death in 1994.

Missouri could be heading for a record number of executions in 2014. Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court set a March 26 execution date for Jeffrey Ferguson, convicted of abducting, raping and killing a 17-year-old girl in St. Charles 25 years ago. Several other inmates on death row have also exhausted all but last-minute court appeals and could soon face execution.

Read more:

Would you witness an execution?

Executions increasingly viewed as torture

10 facts on lethal injections


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