Missouri has carried out the execution of 46-year-old John Winfield for the murders of two women in St. Louis County 18 years ago. Winfield received a lethal injection of pentobarbital at 12:01 Wednesday morning and was pronounced dead at 12:10.
Winfield appeared to tell the witnesses that were there for him, “I love you,” after the curtains were opened to the execution chamber. After the 5 grams of the drug was administered, Winfield took a series of deep breaths and then stopped moving. The execution appeared to take less than a minute.
Winfield declined to make a final statement and did not accept food prior to the execution. His body was released to one of his attorneys.
The execution was witnessed by five members of the family of one of the women he killed, Shawnee Murphy, as well as his ex-girlfriend Carmelita Donald whom he shot four times leaving her blind, three members of her family, his mother, his daughter, and two of his friends. There were no representatives present of the other woman he fatally shot, Arthea Sanders.
Winfield is the seventh man executed in Missouri since November, and the seventh since the state began using pentobarbital compounded by a pharmacy that the Department of Corrections will not officially confirm the identity of.
Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O’Connell offers the timeline of the John Winfield execution.
Winfield’s execution proceeded after the United States Supreme Court declined two applications for stays filed by his attorneys. One asked for a stay until the resolution of an appeal Winfield had pending in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals related to Missouri’s execution protocol. The other had asked the Court to stay his execution while it reviewed the 8th Circuit Court’s records and considered his argument that consideration of his petition for clemency was interfered with by Department of Corrections officials.
A short time later, Governor Jay Nixon (D) denied Winfield’s petition for clemency.
In a statement, Nixon wrote, “John Winfield’s violent rampage on the night of Sept. 9, 1996, left two women dead and another permanently blinded. The two murder victims, Arthea Sanders and Shawnee Murphy, were killed while trying to help Carmelita Donald escape from the armed Winfield. Carmelita Donald herself was shot and permanently blinded by Winfield, who showed no mercy that night on his victims. The jury in this case properly found that these heinous crimes warranted the death penalty, and my denial of clemency upholds the jury’s decision.
“I ask that the people of Missouri remember the victims of John Winfield, both those who were killed and those who survived, and keep them and their families in their thoughts and prayers.”
After the execution was carried out, Attorney General Chris Koster also issued a statement. He writes, “Nearly two decades have passed since John Winfield’s cowardly acts of rage and jealously changed the lives of three families forever. He brutally murdered two defenseless young women, one in front of her children, and attempted to murder the mother of his own children, leaving her permanently disabled. For his actions, a court lawfully sentenced him to death under Missouri law, and tonight that sentence has been carried out.”
Ahead of Winfield’s lethal injection, Missouri was again the subject of national attention for its executions. It was one of three executions scheduled to take place within 24 hours of one another from Tuesday to Wednesday evening. It became the second execution since one widely regarded as “botched” in Oklahoma; that of Clayton Lockett in April.
An independent autopsy has revealed that the execution team there failed to set a properly functioning intravenous tube in Lockett’s leg. He died of a heart attack 43 minutes after the first drugs were administered.
A condemned Georgia inmate, Marcus Wellons, was executed late Tuesday night by lethal injection for the 1989 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl. In Florida, John Ruthell Henry is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening for murdering his wife in 1985.