The state Supreme Court will hear Wednesday the appeal of a man sentenced to death for the murders of a Laclede County couple in July 2010.
Jesse Driskill, 34, was sentenced to death last year for the murders of 82-year-old Johnnie Wilson and his wife, 76-year-old Coleen Wilson. He was also convicted of rape and sodomy for attacking Coleen Wilson after killing her husband, as well as burglary and five counts of armed criminal action
Driskill claims that because he was denied medication for panic attacks, he was unable to testify during his trial out of fear of having an attack on the stand and was unable to be in the courtroom while his sentence was being considered. He says that prevented him from participating in his own defense. His challenge also stems from what evidence the jury was and was not allowed to review while considering his punishment, and from the court denying his request for a competency hearing.
The Attorney General’s Office argues that Driskill waived the right to be present during portions of his trial and that previous competency hearings found that he was able to stand trial without medication. It argues that he understood how the trial would proceed and was able to assist in his defense. It also says that the court made proper decisions regarding the evidence the jury saw and that Driskill had plenty of opportunity to present arguments regarding that evidence.
The Laclede County Prosecuting Attorney and Attorney General Chris Koster argued in last year’s trial that the Wilsons encountered Driskill as he attempted to burglarize their home north of Bennett Spring State Park where they had gone to celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary. He shot and suffocated Johnnie before raping, sodomizing and shooting Coleen. He then tried unsuccessfully to burn their bodies to hide the evidence of his crimes.