July 29, 2014

Convicted killer compares Gov. Nixon, Missouri to Hitler, Mengele, Auschwitz (AUDIO)

43-year-old Michael Shane Worthington is scheduled to be executed early the morning of August 6 for the 1995 murder of his neighbor, Melinda Griffin. Griffin was found raped and strangled in her Lake St. Louis condo.

Michael Shane Worthington (Courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Michael Shane Worthington (Courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Worthington, like other convicted men, their attorneys, and death penalty critics, say Missouri’s execution protocol is wrong for keeping secret details about procedures and drugs used, and for using compounding pharmacies that they claim could produce faulty drugs.

Such critics say compounding pharmacies have a history of producing drugs that are too potent or too weak, and could cause an inmate to suffer, which would violate the Constitutional prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment.

Worthington has strong words for Governor Jay Nixon (D) and the state.

AUDIO:  (21 seconds)  “Basically he’s no different than a Joseph Mengele and Adolph Hitler, you know what I mean? This place is a baby Auschwitz,” Worthington tells Missourinet. “They’re just marching us through there and experimenting on us like Joseph Mengele did. That’s why they called him the angel of death. Nixon and his people are no different.”

Worthington says compounding pharmacies are, “basically a meth lab. It’s really no different. These people might be educated, but they’re making drugs to kill us and then they want to hide behind the secrecy clause.”

“We’re told it’s pentobarbital but we don’t really know it is,” says Worthington of the execution drug. “We’re just told it us. We’re not allowed to know where it comes from so we can’t investigate to make sure that the company … what complaints have been against them.”

Ready to be executed

Worthington says he is prepared to die. He just believes the way the state carries out executions is wrong.

“I know where I’m going. I know I’m saved. I know I’ll be okay. I know I’m forgiven. I know I messed up in life,” says Worthington. “My life’s been hell and horrible. I don’t want to die [in prison] an old man, so getting it over with now is perfectly fine with me. They’re doing me a favor. I don’t like the way they go about doing the things they do, but I’m perfectly willing to go. I’ve had no fear of death.”

Worthington claims drugs and alcohol robbed him of his memories of the night of the murder, and says those drugs and alcohol also likely rendered him “impotent,” and unable to have attacked Griffin. He claims two other men were likely responsible; men with whom he had an association and whom he believed went into Griffin’s apartment to commit a burglary.

Griffin’s mother, Carol Angelbeck, says she’s heard that claim before, and says it was proven to be false.

“He says that [those two men] had unplugged all of Mindy’s … her television and everything and when my husband went in when they gave us the condo back …nothing was touched, so that was a lie,” says Angelbeck.

Worthington tells Missourinet that his attorneys urged him to confess and coached him on what to say, and says parts of his confession didn’t match the case.

Angelbeck doesn’t believe that, either.

“He pled guilty in open court, under oath, and he gave a blow-by-blow description of what he did to Mindy,” says Angelbeck, who says he described the crime matter-of-factly to the court. “He strangled her twice,” she says.

Most upsetting to Angelbeck was that Worthington also tells Missourinet that he had a friendly relationship with Griffin, but Angelbeck says she’s actually relieved to know what he’s saying about the crime today.

“As a decent human being and as a Christian I really was feeling a little bit sorry for him maybe,” says Angelbeck, “and this proved to me that he is never sorry, he still won’t take responsibility, so his sentence is right and it should stand.”

Asked what he would say to Angelbeck, Worthington says it hurts to know that he was the cause of Griffin’s death, saying that the two men he believes were responsible knew of Griffin through him.

“I could have possibly been there that night. I don’t know,” says Worthington. “I don’t know what it was, but yes I’m guilty in part … whether I was the actual killer or whether I was the actual one that raped her, it doesn’t matter to me. I still feel guilty in my heart.”

Worthington is set to have a clemency hearing Thursday. Governor Nixon will decide whether to grant him clemency.

Angelbeck tells Missourinet she still plans to witness Worthington’s execution.


Ruling against California death penalty could be raised in Missouri execution cases

A federal judge in California has ruled that state’s death penalty takes so long to be carried out it breaks the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling could have an impact on cases in Missouri.

Washington University Professor Peter Joy

Washington University Professor Peter Joy

The judge ruled that delays of 25 years or more for appeals and the rarely carrying out of executions by California mean that state’s death penalty has become arbitrary and pointless.

Washington University Law Professor Peter Joy says the ruling could come up in Missouri cases.

“Any lawyer representing somebody on death row who’s been on death row for a lengthy period of time should raise this argument now because there is this decision out there,” says Joy.

About 40 percent of California’s death row inmates have been there more than 19 years. Three Missouri inmates have been awaiting execution for 25 years, and about 22 percent of condemned Missouri inmates have been waiting 19 years or more.

Not all the delays cited by the judge stem from appeals.

Joy says also noted were, “delays [related to] the system itself, and have nothing to do with the person filing a lot of appeals.”

“Out in California,” says Joy, “There’s a much lengthier time before the court finds someone to appoint as a lawyer to represent people that have been convicted in their appeals and post-conviction relief. There isn’t that lengthy a time here in Missouri but there are still issues with the way the process works that take a long time.”

The issue could be raised by attorneys for Michael Shane Worthington, who Missouri is scheduled to execute August 6 and who has been awaiting execution for 15 years.

Family remembers victims after Missouri executes John Middleton

Triple-killer John Middleton died peacefully at 7:06 p.m. yesterday evening, strapped to a gurney in the Bonne Terre prison’s death chamber after a frantic two-day effort by his attorneys to save his life.     Middleton was sentenced to death in 1997, two years after he murdered Alfred Pinegar.  He later was sentenced to death for the murders  of Randy Hamilton and Stacey Hodge, also in 1995.

“You are killing an innocent man,” he said in his last statement.

Middleton barely moved as the lethal injection of pentobarbital was administered, turning his head slightly to the right after looking toward three members of his family when the curtains on the execution chambers windows were opened.  He showed no signs of distress or discomfort.

“Nineteen years seems like a long time to wait for justice,” said Michael Black, an uncle of Alfred Pinegar, after the execution, “It’s a lifetime for a little girl who had to grow up without her father…Our family has waited all this time, never forgetting that our son, grandson, uncle, nephew, father and best friend is not with us.”

Albert Pinegar

Albert Pinegar

“In those 19 years, we, as a family, have had to live with the thoughts of John Middleton being able to enjoy a meal, the smell of spring in the air or any number of simple pleasures,” he continued, “These are things that Alfred, Randy and Stacey cannot enjoy . These simple things we cannot share with Alfred.”

Black said he can go to Pinegar’s grave “and tell him it’s done now; he has finally been punished for his crimes.”

Middleton, a methamphetamine user and dealer in northwest Missouri, murdered the three, considering them “snitches” who had informed law enforcement about his meth dealings.

His attorneys repeatedly filed appeals in the last few days, asserting that Middleton was mentally ill and delusional, therefore exempt from execution under federal standards that prohibit the execution of the mentally ill.  They also claimed a new witness, never identified, had stepped forward who could attest to Middleton’s innocence.

Although federal District Judge Catherine Perry twice issued stays, saying Middleton’s claims of insanity should be given proper judicial review, the 8th U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned both of her stays.  The United States Supreme Court also rejected requests for stays.

The final hope for a stay, an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, was rejected about 5 p.m. in a withering opinion by a divided court (4-3) holding that a  doctor’s opinion about Middleton’s mental condition not  “even approaches a substantial threshold showing that Middleton suffers from…delusions”.  Instead, said the court, Middleton “plainly understands he is to be executed as punishment because he was found guilty of murdering his three victims; he simply believes “his chances of escaping execution.”

Events moved quickly after that decision.

According to a Corrections Department timeline, Governor Nixon denied clemency at 6:08.  The department was notified two minutes later than all pending petitions had been denied by the U. S. Supreme Court.   The rest of the timeline:

6:21–Middleton was moved to the execution chamber.

6:24–Execution warrant read to Middleton

6:37–Witnesses begin to move into their viewing positions.

6:52–U. S. Supreme Court denies an additional stay application

6:55–Prison officials get word of the action.

6:56–Attorney General Chris Koster gives go-ahead.

6:57–Governor Nixon says execution can proceed.

6:58–Injection of five grams of Pentobarbital begins.

7:00–Five minute timer set.

7:05–Medical personnel enter the chamber to look for vital signs

7:06–Middleton pronounced dead.

AUDIO: Mike Black 2:42

SCOMO splits; says “no” to Middleton

A divided state supreme court strongly rejected prison inmate John Middleton’s contention that he is mentally unfit to be executed this evening.

The court  ruled 4-3 in a scathing opinion that a doctor’s opinion about Middleton’s mental condition “even approaches a substantial threshold showing that Middleton suffers from…delusions”.  Instead, says the majority of the court, Middleton “plainly understands he is to be executed as punishment because he was found guilty of murdering his three victims; he simply believes he should not have been convicted.”

The court says the only thing he is delusional about is “his chances of escaping execution.”

Other appeals remain possible. Governor Nixon has not said whether he will allow clemency to Middleton but he seldom does grant it. He won’t make his announcement until all appeals have ended.







Execution closer for Middleton

The federal circuit court of appeals has moved prison inmate John Middleton one step closer to execution this evening, refusing to reconsider an order issued by a panel of the court’s judges lifting a stay of execution. The stay had been issued by a district court judge who says Middleton’s mental state merits a stay.

The stay of execution, however, will not be lifted until 6 o’clock, giving Middleton’s legal team time to file appeals with the United States Supreme Court–which turned down appeals yesterday–and with the Missouri Supreme Court, which has not considered claims that Middleton is mentally unfit for execution. The judges on the circuit court of appeals say the federal court system cannot consider his mental condition until it has been considered through the state court system. However, Middleton attorney Joe Perkovich told the Missourinet earlier this week that Missouri laws have no provision for such an appeal.

Inside the prison at Bonne Terre, Middleton waits in a holding cell a short distance from the execution chamber. In another part of the prison, a minister, a Middleton sister and a Middleton niece are waiting to learn if they will be witnesses to his execution. In a separate room, seven relatives of two of Middleton’s three victims in 1995 wait for the same thing.