ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court's decision to move ahead with two executions this year is being questioned by some death penalty observers and opponents.
The state High Court on Wednesday set execution dates for condemned killers Allen Nicklasson and Joseph Franklin.
Missouri plans to become the first-ever state to use the anesthetic propofol for lethal injection. Propofol was used in the death of pop star Michael Jackson.
States are scrambling because makers of drugs previously used in executions now prohibit their use.
Executions have been on hold in Missouri since the court declined last August to set dates for six inmates.
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster applauded the court's decision. But Death Penalty Information Center executive director Richard Dieter says using propofol will essentially be "an experiment with a human subject."
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a death row inmate who shot a suburban St. Louis police officer.
The court's 5-2 decision yesterday dealt with Kevin Johnson. He was convicted of fatally shooting Kirkwood Police Sgt. Bill McEntee in 2005.
Johnson's current attorneys raised about a dozen claims that his original attorneys were ineffective. Among other things, they claimed the presence of numerous uniformed police in the courtroom and halls could have influenced jurors to find Johnson guilty.
Judge George Draper III rejected that argument in the Supreme Court's majority opinion.
But judges Patricia Breckenridge and Laura Denvir Stith dissented. They said Johnson's attorneys should have objected to the police presence, and he deserves a hearing on whether he got a fair trial.
PHOENIX (AP) - Jodi Arias returns to court today as her attorneys ask the judge to vacate the jury's decision that the 2008 killing of her boyfriend was "especially cruel," a finding that allowed the panel to consider the death penalty.
Arias was convicted of first-degree murder May 8 in the stabbing and shooting death of Travis Alexander in his suburban Phoenix home. About two weeks later, the same jury failed to reach a unanimous decision on whether to sentence Arias to life in prison or death. While her murder conviction stands, the judge declared a mistrial of the penalty phase.
Prosecutors say they are preparing to try again for the death penalty with a new jury, but would consider a resolution short of a new trial.
Arias admitted she killed Alexander, but claimed it was self-defense.
Gabriel Roche, 18, of Republic, is charged with first degree murder and armed criminal action in the 2011 stabbing death of 17-year-old Weston North, also of Republic. A probable cause statement says North was stabbed and then begged for his life before Roche slit his throat.
The Springfield News-Leader reports (http://sgfnow.co/15pPxQ8 ) that prosecutors have filed their intention to seek the penalty against Roche. Prosecutors say Roche killed North because North was a witness in a felony offense.
Prosecutor Dan Patterson on Friday declined to say what that offense was but earlier court documents say Roche believed North was a "snitch."