Attorneys for three men sentenced to be executed have presented their arguments to the Missouri Supreme Court why it shouldn’t set a date for their executions. The Court ordered those attorneys to prepare those arguments in Show Cause orders issued in each case, January 29. The State Attorney General’s Office has responded to two of them.
Among the arguments attorneys for William Rousan, Russell Bucklew and Cecil Clayton separately make is that because their clients are plaintiffs in Zink v. Lombardi, ongoing federal litigation regarding Missouri’s lethal injection process, their executions should not proceed until that has been settled. To this point, the Attorney General’s Office argues legal precedent that federal litigation is not a reason not to set an execution date. Joseph Franklin, Allen Nicklasson and Herbert Smulls were also plaintiffs in Zink v. Lombardi when they were executed in November, December and January, respectively.
Attorneys for Clayton argue that he is incompetent to understand his punishment due to a deteriorating mental state, in part because of a head injury 25 years before he fatally shot Berry County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Castetter in November, 1996. That injury at a sawmill resulted in the removal of part of the right frontal lobe of his brain. The Attorney General’s Office’s response to the arguments of Clayton’s attorneys is due March 5.
Attorneys for Bucklew, who in 1996 shot Michael Sanders, the presumed new boyfriend of his ex, say he suffers from malformed blood vessels that cause among other things, bleeding from his mouth and eyes, and could increase the risk of a painful or prolonged lethal injection. The state argues that doesn’t merit an indefinite delay in setting his execution date.
Rousan also claims instructions given to the jury at his trial were confusing; an issue the state says the Court and federal courts have already dealt with. Rousan, his son and brother participated in the murder of a rural Bonne Terre couple as part of a cattle theft and robbery.
Missouri is scheduled to carry out the execution by lethal injection of Michael Taylor early Wednesday morning. Taylor is one of two men sentenced to death after pleading guilty to the 1989 murder of 15-year-old Ann Harrison of Kansas City.
On Friday the State Supreme Court set March 26 as the date for the execution of Jeffrey Ferguson for the 1989 abduction, rape and murder of 17-year-old Kelli Hall in St. Louis County.
Both Ferguson and Taylor were among four men for whom the Supreme Court in December ordered attorneys to present arguments why their execution dates should not be set. The others of those four were Roderick Nunley and David Barnett. Nunley is the second man who plead guilty in the murder of Harrison. Barnett stabbed each of his grandparents more than 10 times at their Glendale home before stealing their car and $120 in cash.