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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Missouri Executes 9th Inmate This Year

BONNE TERRE, Mo. (CN) - Missouri executed its ninth prisoner in 2014 early Wednesday morning.

Leon Taylor was pronounced dead at 12:22 a.m. His chest heaved for several seconds after he was injected with pentobarbital, but then showed no other movements during the execution, The Associated Press reported.

Taylor's attorneys had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution. The attorneys argued that his original jury was deadlocked and he was sentenced to death by a judge. When that conviction was thrown out, an all-white jury sentenced Taylor, who is black, to death.

In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that only juries could impose a death sentence. Taylor's attorneys argued in the appeal filed Tuesday that Taylor's original jury did not impose the death sentence.

By 5-4 vote, the nation's high court refused to grant the stay without comment Tuesday. The court earlier today also denied Taylor a rehearing.

Taylor shot gas station attendant Robert Newton in the head in Independence on April 14, 1994 during a robbery. Taylor then turned the gun toward Newton's 8-year-old stepdaughter, but the gun jammed. Taylor locked the girl in a back storage room with her stepfather's body.

The execution ties a state record set in 1999 for number of executions in a calendar year. Missouri plans to execute Paul T. Goodwin on Dec. 2.

Missouri has actually executed 11 prisoners in the past 365 days, counting two from 2013. The uptick coincides with the state switching to a one-drug execution protocol that has survived various legal challenges and a backlog of prisoners who have exhausted their appeals.

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