September 2, 2015

Retired detective says Missouri has taken too long in executing Nunley

A man who investigated the murder of a 15-year-old girl in Kansas City in 1989 says the second execution of one of her killers has taken too long in coming.

Roderick Nunley

Roderick Nunley

It’s been more than 26 years since Ann Harrison was abducted while waiting for her school bus, raped, fatally stabbed, and left in the trunk of a stolen car to die. Six months later a tip led authorities to Michael Taylor, and he led them to his accomplice, Roderick Nunley.

Nunley’s execution is scheduled to happen Tuesday night at the state prison in Bonne Terre. Retired Kansas City Police detective Pete Edlund’s squad investigated the case.

“They’re finally getting around to executing Roderick Nunley after they executed Michael Taylor last year,” said Edlund.

He thinks it’s taken too long for that sentence to be carried out.

“They admit they did it. The fact that we have to draw this out at ad infinitum for years and years and years is a real travesty of real justice,” said Edlund.

Michael Taylor (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

Michael Taylor (courtesy; Missouri Department of Corrections)

He said Harrison’s one of the cases he’ll never forget, in part because he knew her family. Her father and uncle were in law enforcement.

“He parents and her sister are the nicest, sweetest people you could ever hope to meet,” said Edlund. “They are so kind, so giving.”

Edlund said when Taylor and Nunley confessed to killing Harrison, they bragged about the crimes. Nunley, he said, was angry with Taylor, accusing him of taking too much credit.

“He resented the fact that Michael Taylor was taking credit for leading the two of them to commit this crime, versus, in reality, Roderick was the one,” said Edlund.

Nunley’s attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution arguing that it would violate his constitutional rights and that he is entitled to sentencing by a jury. His conviction and sentencing were handed down by a judge.

If those and any other appeals are unsuccessful, and if Governor Jay Nixon (D) declines to grant clemency, Nunley will be executed by lethal injection between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 5:59 p.m. Wednesday.

Missouri seniors score better than national average on ACT scores

Missouri high school seniors beat the national average in all subjects on this year’s ACT.

Sarah Potter

Sarah Potter

“We held very steady at 21.6 from about 2005 to 2013. This year, we had a 21.7,” said Sarah Potter with the Department of Education. “We are happy to see a slight uptick. It’s still higher than the national average of 21.”

Potter said 71% of Missouri senior meth the benchmark in English, 51% in reading, 44% in math, and 42% in science; the area in which they scored the most poorly.

She said English continues to be the strongest subject for Missouri’s seniors.

“That really falls in line with what we are seeing on other assessments,” said Potter.

Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Education

Photo courtesy of the Missouri Department of Education

The best score possible on the ACT is a 36. Potter says even though Missouri seniors beat the national average, there’s still work to be done to move that average closer to 36.

“College career readiness is one of the major things we are focused on here at the Department of Education and across the state,” said Potter. “We have an initiative called ‘The Top 10 by 20 Initiative’. We want to be a top 10 state for education by 2020.”

Potter says more than 49,000 seniors in Missouri took the exam this year, an increase of 2% from last year. She says juniors will get the chance next year to take the test.

 

New municipal court law concerns Missouri Municipal League

A state law that took effect on Friday tells municipalities they can make less revenue from traffic tickets and fines than they were allowed under the Macks Creek law. The Missouri Municipal League calls the municipal court reform bill that is now law an “overreach.”

Missouri Municipal League Deputy Director Richard Sheets

Missouri Municipal League Deputy Director Richard Sheets

State lawmakers and the governor said cities were abusing the municipal court system and making too much revenue. They wanted lower limits on that revenue and new standards, reporting mandates, and enforcement options. Senate Bill 5 includes new standards and reporting requirements and lowers the cap to 12.5-percent in St. Louis County and to 20-percent in the rest of the state.

Earlier story:  Missouri governor signs municipal court reform bill with ‘real teeth’

Deputy Director Richard Sheets says the tighter limits on revenue would hurt public safety, primarily in smaller cities in outstate Missouri.

“Cities weren’t using this money to operate their general operations. They were primarily using this money to help fund their police department and maybe their municipal court,” said Sheets. “Those cities that might have been too aggressive in their traffic control are very few.”

Sheets says the League isn’t sure how new reporting mandates and standards might mesh with municipal court reforms the state Supreme Court is preparing. It also has concerns about the new limit to fines of $300 and that cities can no longer issue warrants to whose who fail to appear for a traffic violation.

“The concern there is that will encourage violators to avoid prosecution and just not come back to court and not pay their fine,” said Sheets.

Sheets says the League and its attorneys are weighing its best options for litigation or future legislation regarding the new law.

Missouri Task Force One leader remembers Hurricane Katrina

This week marks ten years since Hurricane Katrina devastated portions of the gulf coast. Members of Missouri Task Force One were called in by the federal government and helped rescue victims, often by boat and often from homes. Approximately 80 members from Missouri helped with the hurricane efforts.

Missouri Task Force One members helping victims to safety during Hurricane Katrina

Missouri Task Force One members helping victims to safety during Hurricane Katrina

Task Force leader Doug Westhoff says he remembers the people who were helped.

“The heart of the people was probably one of the most notable things that sticks out in my mind. They were very appreciative of the efforts we were making and the efforts of the federal government,” said Westhoff. “It was a huge flood event that I don’t think anybody could anticipate. It was certainly a notable response that will probably never be replicated again in my career anyway.”

“Every time one of these events occur, there’s always an impact to humans. That’s always an emotional challenge for all of our responders,” said Westhoff.

Westhoff says the federal government was criticized for its response to the disaster, but he says that response was there early.

Aerial photo of Hurricane Katrina flooding

Aerial photo of Hurricane Katrina flooding

“Very few people knew that first responders had been moved in prior to the storm making landfall. That was never really reported,” said Westhoff. “It was very frustrating to us as first responders to be down there and engaging in activities sixteen hours a day and everything in the media that we were seeing had a negative connotation about the government’s response or lack thereof. We were down there beating our heads against the wall and working our rear ends off.”

At least 1,200 people died in Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent floods. The Hurricane was the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history, including more than $100 billion in total property damage.

 

Ameren begins moving nuclear waste to central Missouri site

Ameren has started moving spent fuel into its new dry cask storage facility in Callaway County that will hold a portion of that fuel. Shannon Abel with Ameren said the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also involved in the move to ensure the process is done safely.

Ameren's dry storage canisters

Ameren’s dry storage canisters

“We have lots of regulatory oversight to ensure that this is done correctly and safely,” said Abel.

Abel said there have been five successful trials runs completed prior to moving the spent fuel. He said the move is another safe method to store its fuel.

“All we are doing is moving from a pool of water into a dry storage canister. From a safety standpoint, we are every bit as safe or probably more than the original design,” said Abel.

The process to move fuel to the new facility began this week and will continue for the next 6-8 weeks.

“This is our first opportunity to move used fuel out of the spent fuel pit and into dry storage canisters. It’s new to us, but not new to the country,” Abel told Missourinet.

The cost of the facility was undisclosed, but Ameren said the cost of the project does not affect rates for customers.