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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - As Missouri prepares to execute its third inmate in three months, a state senator wants to change the state's execution process.
 
Senate Democratic Leader Jolie Justus introduced legislation Tuesday that would create an 11-member commission responsible for setting the state's execution procedure. She says ongoing lawsuits and secrecy about the state's current lethal injection method should drive a change in protocol.
 
Missouri had used a three-drug cocktail for executions, but it threw out the process after it could no longer obtain the drugs. The state ultimately switched to a form of pentobarbital made by a compounding pharmacy, though it refuses to reveal its origins.
 
Missouri is scheduled to execute Herbert Smullsat 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Smulls was convicted of killing a St. Louis County jeweler in 1991.
 
Published in Local News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - With convicted killer Herbert Smulls' execution just hours away, his lawyer says she's used open records requests and publicly available documents to determine the name of the compounding pharmacy she believes manufactures Missouri's lethal injection drug.
 
Smulls is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The state plans to use pentobarbital, but has refused to say where the drug is made. Attorney Cheryl Pilate has said that makes it impossible for Smulls' advocates to know whether it could cause pain and suffering.
 
Pilate told The Associated Press on Tuesday that her research indicates the drug is made by The Apothecary Shoppe, based in Tulsa, Okla. She says an Oklahoma City-based lab tested the drug.
 
Messages seeking comment from both companies, and the Missouri Department of Corrections, were not immediately returned.
Published in Local News

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Missouri Supreme Court has scheduled a February 26th execution for a man who pleaded guilty in the 1989 abduction, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old Kansas City girl.

Michael Taylor and Roderick Nunley were charged with kidnapping Ann Harrison as she waited for a school bus near her home. She was raped, stabbed and left bleeding to death in the trunk of a car.

The high court set Taylor's execution date on Friday.

Taylor's lawyer said the scheduling was premature in light of ongoing lawsuits against Missouri's execution procedures. The state switched to a one-drug lethal injection method since drug companies stopped selling the traditional three-drug mixture for use in executions.

Nunley was scheduled to be executed in 2010, but was granted a stay.

Published in Local News

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The execution of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's uncle brought a swift and violent end to a man long considered the country's second-most powerful. But while Jang Song Thaek is now gone, the fallout from his bloody purge is not over.

In a stunning reversal of the popular image of Jang as a mentor and father figure guiding young Kim Jong Un as he consolidated power, North Korea's state-run media on Friday announced he had been executed and portrayed him as a morally corrupt traitor who saw the death of Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, in December 2011 as an opportunity to make his own power play.

Experts who study the authoritarian country, which closely guards its internal workings from both outsiders and citizens, were divided on whether the sudden turn of events reflected turmoil within the highest levels of power or signaled that Kim Jong Un was consolidating his power in a decisive show of strength. Either way, the purge is an unsettling development for a world that is already wary of Kim's unpredictability amid North Korea's attempts to develop nuclear weapons.

"If he has to go as high as purging and then executing Jang, it tells you that everything's not normal," said Victor Cha, a former senior White House adviser on Asia.

The first appearance of the new narrative came out just days ago, when North Korea accused Jang, 67, of corruption, womanizing, gambling and taking drugs. It said he'd been eliminated from all his posts. Friday's allegations heaped on claims that he tried "to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state."

"He dared not raise his head when Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il were alive," it said, referring to the country's first leader and his son. But after Kim Jong Il's death, it claimed, Jang saw his chance to challenge Kim Jong Un and realize his "long-cherished goal, greed for power."

The purge also could spread and bring down more people, Cha said. "When you take out Jang, you're not taking out just one person — you're taking out scores if not hundreds of other people in the system. It's got to have some ripple effect."

South Korean intelligence officials say two of Jang's closest aides have already been executed last month.

Narushige Michishita, a security expert at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, suggested that Jang's removal shows "that Kim Jong Un has the guts to hold onto power, and this might have shown his will to power, his willingness to get rid of anything that stands in his way."

One of the biggest opportunities for the world to see what may happen next will come on Dec. 17, which is the second anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death. North Korea watchers will be closely following whether Jang's wife, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il, and other figures are present in the official ceremonies marking the day.

News of Jang Song Thaek's execution was trumpeted across the nation by North Korea's state media — with unusually vitriolic outbursts on TV, radio and in the main newspaper — as a triumph of Kim Jong Un and the ruling party over a traitor "worse than a dog" who was bent on overthrowing the government.

Pyongyang residents crowded around newspapers posted at the capital's main subway station to read the story. State media said Jang was tried for treason by a special military tribunal and executed Thursday.

"He's like an enemy who dares to be crazy enough to take over power from our party and our leader," said Pak Chang Gil, echoing the media's official line. "He got what he deserved."

That's a long way from the popular perception that "Uncle Jang" was nurturing his nephew as a regent appointed by Kim Jong Il. Jang was seen prominently by Kim Jong Un's side as he walked by his father's hearse during his 2011 funeral. He was also a fixture at the new leader's side as he toured the country.

The KCNA report was unusually specific in its accusations. In particular, it criticized Jang for not rising and applauding his nephew's appointment to a senior position because Jang "thought that if Kim Jong Un's base and system for leading the army were consolidated, this would lay a stumbling block in the way of grabbing the power."

It stressed repeatedly that Jang had tried to assemble a faction of his own, suggesting the purging process could still be playing out.

Jang's death could herald a "reign of terror," including more purges, said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea's Kyungnam University.

Another question mark is how the purge will impact North Korea's relationship with its only major ally, China. Jang had been seen as the leading supporter of Chinese-style economic reforms and an important link between Pyongyang and Beijing. China has called Jang's execution a domestic issue and has avoided further public comment.

North Korea has recently turned to attempts at diplomacy with South Korea and the United States. But tensions have remained high since Pyongyang's threats in March and April, which included warnings that it would restart nuclear bomb fuel production.

Another resident in Pyongyang, Ri Chol Ho, said he did not believe Jang alone was deserving of the harshest punishment.

"For this group of traitors who were going to destroy our single-hearted unity, execution is too lenient," he said. "They should be torn up and thrown into the rubbish bin of history."

__

Klug reported from Seoul. AP reporters Hyung-jin Kim and Eun-young Jeong in Seoul and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this story.

Published in National News
Thursday, 12 December 2013 00:55

Missouri carries out Nicklasson execution

   Allen Nicklasson has been executed for killing a good Samaritan who stopped to help him and his friends after their car had broken down in 1994. Nicklasson was convicted of shooting Excelsior Springs businessman Richard Drummond twice in the head.  

   Missouri corrections officials carried out Nicklasson's sentence shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the state and overturned a lower court stay.  The 41 year old was pronounced dead at 10:52 p.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre.

   After denying a clemency plea, Governor Jay Nixon issued a statement saying, "the brutality of this crime is unquestioned."  And that a jury had decided it warranted the state's most serious punishment.  Nixon said his decision "upholds the jury's action." 

   The execution is Missouri's second in three weeks and the second since Missouri began using the execution drug, pentobarbital. 

 
Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office has appealed the stay of execution for convicted killer Allen Nicklasson, calling the federal appeals court ruling "an abuse of discretion."

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday granted a stay for Nicklasson, scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing businessman Richard Drummond nearly two decades ago.

Late Monday, Koster's office asked for a hearing before the full 8th Circuit. By Tuesday morning, no decision had been made on that appeal.

After going nearly three years without an execution, Missouri had been preparing for its second in three weeks. The state executed racist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin on Nov. 20. It was the first execution in Missouri using a single drug, pentobarbital.

Published in Local News

   KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A panel of federal judges has stayed a Missouri man's execution a little more than a day before he was set to die.

   Allen Nicklasson had been scheduled to be put to death at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing businessman Richard Drummond in 1994.

   But late Monday a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to stay the execution on Nicklasson's claims of ineffective counsel.

   A stay such as this in a death row case is not unusual and does not mean the execution ultimately will be scuttled.

   The state is expected to appeal the decision to the full appeals court.

 

Published in Local News
Tuesday, 19 November 2013 16:48

UPDATE: Franklin Executed

   Confessed white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin has been executed after two federal stays were vacated just after midnight Wednesday.

   U.S. District Court Judge Nanette Laughery ruled late Tuesday afternoon that a lawsuit filed by Franklin and 21 other death-row inmates challenging Missouri's execution protocol must first be resolved.

   Later in the day, a second federal judge stayed the execution, saying a defense appeal over Franklin's mental competency needs more review.

   After an appeal by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, the 8th circuit U.S. District Court vacated both stays. 

   Only the U.S. Supreme Court can intervene to stop Franklin's execution now.

   The 63 year old inmate was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing 42 year old Gerald Gordon in a sniper attack outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.

   It was one of as many as 20 killings committed by Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980.

 
Published in Local News

   White supremacist Joseph Franklin is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.  Missouri Governor Jay Nixon refused Monday to grant him clemency.  

   While serving time for three other murders, Franklin confessed to killing 42 year old Gerald Gordon in a sniper attack outside a Richmond Heights synagogue in 1977.  It's the only murder for which he received the death penalty.

   The condemned man spoke with Fox 2 News Monday.  Franklin says he hasn't reached out to Gordon's wife, because he doesn't want to upset her.  "But I would apologize to her right now," he said.  "Tell her I'm sorry for the horrible crime that I committed and ask for her forgiveness."

   Franklin admitted that he does deserve to die for his crime.  He said he's in a completely different place now, mentally.  He described himself as "indoctrinated" at the time of the murder.  "My mind was just all messed up after having read a whole lot of Nazi literature."

   In 1994 Major Rick Zweifel of the Richmond Heights Police Department took Franklin's confession.  Zweifel says that Franklin expressed regret that he hadn't kill more people.  "He's upset it's against the law," Zweifel said.  "And when I questioned him about what do you mean it's against the law? He says killing Jews."

   Franklin has exhausted his appeals, but has filed a lawsuit to stop his execution based on the method Missouri officials plan to employ.

   If the lawsuit fails, Franklin's execution will be the first performed under Missouri's new drug protocol and the first in the state in three years.

Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has refused to halt the execution of white supremacist serial killer Joseph Paul Franklin, calling his crime in Missouri a "cowardly and calculated shooting."

Nixon's office announced the decision Monday afternoon.

Franklin is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for killing 42-year-old Gerald Gordon in a sniper attack outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977. It was one of as many as 20 killings committed by Franklin, who targeted blacks and Jews in a cross-country killing spree from 1977 to 1980. He was convicted of seven other murders but the Missouri case was the only one resulting in a death sentence.

The execution would be the first in Missouri in nearly three years and the first ever in the state to use a single execution drug, the sedative pentobarbital.

 

Published in Local News
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