Missouri Killer Executed After Bids for Stay Fail
BONNE TERRE, Mo. (CN) - Missouri executed John Middleton on Wednesday night after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his last-minute appeal.
Middleton's execution was stayed twice by U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry amid concerns about his mental well-being. Perry's final stay came late Tuesday, less than two hours before Middleton's execution that was set for 12:01 a.m.
The 8th Circuit overturned both stays, the last of which came midday Wednesday.
Middleton's lawyers then appealed to the Supreme Court for the second time, which had rejected several claims the day before including one that Middleton was innocent. Again, the Supreme Court ruled late Wednesday that the execution could proceed.
Middleton's lawyers also appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which voted 4-3 against Middleton's request for a stay.
"Nothing in Dr. Logan's statement, or in the other proof submitted with Middleton's petition, even approaches a substantial threshold showing that Middleton suffers from such delusions," the majority unsigned opinion states. "Instead, at most, they show that Middleton is delusional as to his innocence and his chances of escaping execution. Middleton plainly understands he is to be executed as punishment because he was found guilty of murdering his three victims; he simply believes he should not have been convicted."
Judges Mary Russell, Patricia Breckenridge, Zel Fischer and Paul Wilson concurred with the majority. Judges George Draper III, Laura Denvir Stith and Richard Teitelman dissented.
Draper said the "court has denied Middleton even a bare modicum of due process."
"Moreover, Middleton has raised serious allegations concerning the Department of Corrections' obstruction to his access to records and individuals who could discuss his mental health at this critical time," he added. "Middleton alleges that despite the DOC's obstructionist policies, he has been able to make a substantial threshold showing that he is incompetent to be executed. This claim is one that could not be raised until an execution date was set, which did not occur until May 30, 2014. The federal district court did not authorize funds for Middleton to retain a psychiatrist to conduct a competency evaluation until after an execution date was set. The short time that has elapsed since the execution date was set and today is insufficient to conduct a thorough investigation into Middleton's competency to be executed."
Middleton was pronounced dead at 7:06 p.m. He left a final written statement, "You are killing an innocent man."
Middleton was convicted of a 1995 triple homicide. His victims supposedly knew of his methamphetamine dealing and he feared they would tell police. Middleton's girlfriend, Maggie Hodges, is serving life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder on all three cases.
Middleton is the sixth inmate executed in Missouri in 2014. Missouri trails just Texas and Florida in number of executions this year. Both of those states have had seven executions as of press time.