A man sentenced to death for murdering three relatives in west-central Missouri in 2009 will tell the state Supreme Court this week he thinks he should have been convicted of a lesser crime.
Donnie and Sharon Luetjen and their 15-year-old granddaughter, Taron Luetjen, were bound and gagged and shot in the head in the couple’s home in Cole Camp in June, 2009. A nephew of the couple, Robbie Blurton, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and given three death sentences because the victims were restrained, the murders were carried out during the course of a robbery, and because of Blurton’s criminal history.
Blurton argues the jury should have been instructed about a lesser sentence of felony murder, which he says there was evidence to find him guilty of instead of first-degree murder. He also challenges cell phone and fingerprint evidence that put him at the scene, and the court’s decision not to let him argue at the trial that the Luetjens’ daughter could have been the murderer.
The state argues Blurton’s death sentences should be upheld because the jury didn’t need to be given instructions regarding the charge of felony murder. It also stands by the testimony regarding the cell phone use and fingerprints that linked Blurton to the scene, and says Blurton failed to offer any evidence that connected the Luetjens’ daughter to the murders.
The Court will hear their arguments Wednesday.