Missouri Executes Killer, Last One for a While

     BONNE TERRE, Mo. (CN) — Missouri executed its first inmate of the year Wednesday night, and it could be the last execution in the state for some time.
     Earl Forrest, 66, was pronounced dead at 7:18 p.m., eight minutes after the execution began.
     Forrest killed Harriett Smith, Michael Wells and Dent County Sheriff’s Deputy Joann Barnes in December 2002.
     Forrest had been drinking when he shot Smith six times in a methamphetamine-related argument. He then shot Wells, who was visiting Smith, in the face and fatally shot Barnes and injured Dent County Sheriff Bob Wofford as they tried to arrest him.
     Forrest’s attorneys unsuccessfully filed a last-minute appeal calling the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment.
     Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, also refused clemency.
     “Earl Forrest callously murdered three people, including a deputy sheriff, over a box of methamphetamine,” Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. “Missouri’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day. They need to know that we will fight just as hard for justice for them and their families.”
     Missouri has been second only to Texas in executions since switching from a three-drug mixture to pentobarbital in November 2013. Missouri has executed 18 prisoners since then, including six last year.
     But the state’s dwindling death row population combined with juries being less likely to give the death penalty means executions will be on hold for the time being. Forty-nine people were sentenced to death nationally last year, the fewest since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, and no one was sentenced to death in Missouri in 2014 or 2015.
     Missouri has 25 men remaining on death row, but 16 have yet to exhaust their appeals and executions are on hold for the other nine. Two were declared mentally unfit for execution, two have had sentences set aside by the courts due to trial attorney errors, one was granted a stay while his innocence claim is reviewed and another was sent back to a lower court to consider an appeal, The Associated Press reported.
     William Boliek was granted a stay of execution by Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan in 1997. That case had not been resolved when Carnahan died in a 2000 plane crash. A court determined that only Carnahan could overturn the stay.
     Gov. Nixon’s office told the AP that Boliek will not be executed.

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