Missouri will not be carrying out the execution next week of a man who was sentenced to death for hiring another man to kill his ex-wife 15-years ago. Governor Jay Nixon (D) has commuted the sentence of 51-year-old Kimber Edwards to life without parole.
Edwards had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre.
Edwards’ attorneys and anti-death penalty advocates cited recent statements by the man he was convicted of hiring to kill Kimberly Cantrell, Orthell Wilson, that he had acted alone and lied about Edwards’ involvement to avoid the death penalty.
Cantrell was fatally shot in her University City Home August 22, 2000. Wilson is serving life in the state prison in Jefferson City for the murder.
Nixon, in his statement, however, does not suggest that he thinks Edwards is innocent.
“After a thorough review of the facts surrounding the murder of Kimberly Cantrell, I am convinced the evidence supports the jury’s decision to convict Kimber Edwards of first-degree murder,” wrote Nixon. “At the same time, however, I am using my authority under the Missouri Constitution to commute Edwards’ sentence to life without the possibility of parole. This is a step not taken lightly, and only after significant consideration of the totality of the circumstances. With this decision, Kimber Edwards will remain in prison for the remainder of his life for this murder.”
Missouri is next scheduled to carry out the execution of Ernest Lee Johnson, November 3.