Missouri Prisoner Among Trio of U.S. Executions
BONNE TERRE, Mo. (CN) - A stay of execution proved short lived for convicted killer John Winfield whom Missouri put to death via lethal injection Wednesday morning.
Winfield became the seventh prisoner executed in Missouri since November.
A federal judge had stayed Winfield's execution last week based on accusations that the Department of Corrections intimidated a prison employee who was going to write on Winfield's behalf in a clemency petition.
After the 8th Circuit vacated that stay, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Winfield's motions for relief. Justice Sonia Sotomayor indicated that she would have granted the 46-year-old a stay, but Gov. Jay Nixon denied Winfield's clemency petition.
Winfield was pronounced dead Wednesday, at 12:10 a.m. He took five deep breaths and then stopped moving, according to media reports. The execution took less than a minute.
The crime of which Winfield was convicted occurred at his ex-girlfriend's apartment on Sept. 9, 1996. The University City man confronted his ex, Carmalita Donald, when she got home, ultimately killing Donald's two roommates. Donald survived four bullet wounds, but was blinded.
Winfield was convicted in 1998 by a St. Louis County jury, which recommended two death sentences.
"Nearly two decades have passed since John Winfield's cowardly acts of rage and jealously changed the lives of three families forever," Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. "He brutally murdered two defenseless young women, one in front of her children, and attempted to murder the mother of his own children, leaving her permanently disabled. For his actions, a court lawfully sentenced him to death under Missouri law, and tonight that sentence has been carried out."
Winfield was one of three inmates nationally to be executed within a 24-hour span. Georgia inmate Marcus Wellons was put to death Tuesday night, and Florida inmate John Henry was executed Wednesday night. The executions are the first in the country since the botched April 29 execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma.
Winfield's execution is the seventh in Missouri since it adopted pentobarbital from an unknown compounding pharmacy as its lethal injection drug in November. All of the executed inmates, including Winfield, unsuccessfully argued that they had a right to know the identity of the compounding pharmacy. Missouri contends that the compounding pharmacy is a part of the execution team and is therefore entitled to anonymity.
The only inmate to successfully be granted a stay in Missouri since November was Russell Bucklew, who was scheduled to be executed last month. Bucklew successfully argued that he had a rare blood disorder that could cause him cruel and unusual punishment during the lethal-injection process.