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Missouri’s First 2015 Execution Splits SCOTUS

BONNE TERRE, Mo. (CN) - A man who killed a neighbor in 1990 was executed early Wednesday, Missouri's first execution this year after executing a state record 10 prisoners in 2014.

Walter T. Storey, 47, was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. After the lethal injection was given at 12:01 a.m., Storey appeared to sing or chant for 30 seconds to a minute, then took one deep breath, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. He went still with his eyes closed but mouth agape, the newspaper said.

A close majority of the U.S. Supreme Court had denied Storey's request for a stay just hours earlier. Storey's attorneys had hoped to delay their client's execution pending the high court's consideration of a lethal-injection case this spring.

Storey killed Jill Frey, a special education teacher, in St. Charles. Frey, 36, suffered multiple injuries after Storey broke into her apartment, including a slit throat.

"Jill Frey's loved ones waited a quarter-century for the closure and finality of justice that came early this morning," Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. "The level of violence and utter disregard for life that Storey displayed, nearly twenty-five years ago to the day, demanded he pay the ultimate sentence."

Frey's brother, Jeff Frey, was among 14 witnesses on her behalf to the execution. He read a statement questioning why death-penalty opponents consider it a cruel and unusual punishment.

Jeff Frey said Storey had no mercy on his sister, that the wait for his execution was excruciating and that both of his parents died in the interim, according to the Post-Dispatch.

"We hope by hearing our tragic story the people of this country will push to change this process and stop these lengthy lawsuits and appeals," Jeff Frey said in the statement. "Twenty-five years is tragic."

Storey received the death sentence three times for killing Jill Frey. The court overturned the original sentence in 1995 because the defense failed to object to outrageous comments made by a prosecutor and again in 1997 because a judge failed to tell the jury that Storey had a right not to testify. Storey exhausted his appeals after his third Frey-related sentencing in 1999.

Storey's execution will be the last scheduled execution scheduled for 12:01 a.m. Missouri is moving future executions to 6 p.m. to make it more practical for witnesses to appear and courts to consider final appeals.

According to the Post-Dispatch, the prison released a final statement from Storey that said: "For this world full of anger, hate and revenge, I would like to pray for peace, forgiveness and love! I love everyone, even those who are doing this deed."

The death-penalty case that the Supreme Court picked up last month, Glossip v. Gross, is a challenge to Oklahoma's use of the drug midazolam in administering lethal injections.

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