The 48 inmates on Missouri death row could have a little more time on their hands. A bill before a House committee would freeze all pending executions until January 1st, 2011. Kevin Green testified in support of the bill. He says as a husband to woman who was beaten and suffered brain damaged, raped and lost her unbornd daughter, he understands the desire for the death penalty. But, Green says, as a man convicted of 2nd degree murder for the death of his daughter and then exonerated 16 years later because of DNA evidence, the state can’t afford to be wrong. He urges lawmakers to pass the bill and let the state’s judicial system catch up with science. He says more than 100 defendants facing the death sentence have been exonerated from DNA evidence nationwide. Green says three of those exonerations were in Missouri. However, others dispute those numbers.
The bill establishes a moratorium on all death penalties for the next four years. It also establishes the Commission on the Death Penalty to investigate whether defendants sentenced to death are in fact guilty of first-degree murder, that defendants recieved a fair trial, whether race played a role in first-degree murder convictions, whether appellate procedures adequately correct errors and injustices at the trial level and that prosecutors seek the death penatly in a uniform fashion.
The commission would be comprised of 10 members: 2 senators, 2 representatives, the state public defender, the Attorney General, a private criminal defense attorney, a county prosecutor, a family member of a murder victim, and a family member of a person on death row.