The Attorney General is asking the Missouri Supreme Court again to set execution dates for a couple of prison inmates. But his request involves more than the calendar.
Koster’s requests for execution dates in the past have produced nothing. He asked for an execution date for white supremacist Joseph Franklin in 2009. He asked the court to set a date for Allen Nicklasson in early ’10. They’ve been under death sentences since the 90s.
The white supremacist Franklin is to be executed for the sniper murder of a man at a Jewish synagogue. He also has been convicted of killing two African-Americans in Utah, an interracial couple in Wisconsin, and of bombing a synagogue in Tennessee. He also claims to be the person who shot and crippled Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.
Nicklasson faces death for killing a “Good Samaritan” who stopped to help him and two other men when their car broke down. Co-defendant Dennis Skillicorn has been executed.
Franklin and Nicklasson have no federal appeals pending. But inmates in other states are challenging execution protocols. He says the court has a “new philosophy” that a pending federal case involving some other states should stop executions in Missouri.
The court suits haven’t stopped executions in states where protocol suits have been filed. Seventeen inmates have been executed in the first six months of the year, eight of them in Texas. Florida has executed three. Ohio, and Oklahoma have executed two, Georgia and Virginia have each executed one. The Virginia execution was by electric chair. All the others have been through lethal injection.
Missouri’s last execution was that of Martin Link, February 9, 2011. Skillicorn was executed in May, 2009. The last previous executions were in 2005, when five inmates were put to death.
The timing of Koster’s request is intentional. A new Chief Justice is in charge of the court, as of yesterday. And a new member of the court has not addressed the issue.
Koster also worries that more delays will let more drug manufacturers withdraw their drugs for use. And he says a legislature that will not repeal the death penalty might consider reinstituting the gas chamber if lethal injection executions are essentially unofficially negated by the court. He says that’s a not necessarily an issue that should be back on the table.
Koster says the Department of Corrections has assured him it could do an execution if a date is set.