Missouri Death Penalty Timeline

Friday, December 17, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 9:39 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Here is a chronology of key events surrounding the death penalty in Missouri since 2005.

June 2005:  Michael Taylor of Kansas City files Taylor v. Crawford challenging the method of his execution, lethal injection.

Taylor claimed that the state's existing lethal injection procedure violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution by creating a substantial and unnecessary risk that he would suffer gratuitous pain. This would later turn into a class action lawsuit.

October 2005: Marlin Gray, who was involved in the Chain of Rocks Bridge murders in 1991, becomes the last person to be executed before a federal court puts a hold on the process in Missouri.

February 2006: Taylor is granted a stay of execution by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit on the grounds that his death could be a cruel and unusual form of punishment under the Missouri execution system.

April 2006: The second case challenging the constitutionality of the lethal injection in Missouri, Clemons v. Crawford, is filed in the U.S. District Court in St Louis.

Death row inmates claim they will be subject to a painful death in violation of their Eighth Amendment right not to suffer cruel and unusual punishment.

June 2006: A U.S. District Court judge in the Western District of Missouri places a hold on executions in the state following revelations in Taylor v. Crawford that the executions surgeon in charge of the lethal injection had prepared half the legal dose of the anesthetic in a number of executions, was dyslexic and performing executions without a written protocol or adequate supervision.

Justice Fernando Gaitan orders a stay on all executions until the Missouri Department of Corrections can develop a formal written protocol that would meet a series of court requirements.

July 2006: The Missouri Department of Corrections drafts a written protocol for lethal injection to address the problems of Taylor v. Crawford and the dyslexic executions surgeon as ordered by a Federal Court judge.

June 2007: The Missouri Attorney General requests execution dates for death row inmates Roderick Nunley, Michael Taylor and Reginald Clemons, Richard Clay, Jeffrey Ferguson, William Rousan, Russell Bucklew, John Middleton and John Winfield.

April 2008: The U.S. Supreme Court throws out Taylor v. Crawford, upholding Missouri's written protocol and ending the legal hold on executions.           

The Missouri Attorney General requests execution dates be set for Earl Ringo, Martin Link and Mark Christeson.         

June 2008: The Missouri Supreme Court sets a July execution for John Middleton.

May 2009: The Missouri Supreme Court sets an execution for Dennis Skillicorn who is then executed in the same month, making him the only person to be executed in Missouri since 2005.

The Missouri Supreme Court sets a June execution for Reginald Clemons.    

June 2009: The 8th District Court of Appeals in St. Louis stays Clemons' execution while Clemons vs. Crawford is being decided.

January 2010: Missouri Attorney General requests execution dates for Allen Nicklasson and Joseph Franklin.           

June 2010: The U.S. Supreme Court throws out Clemons v. Crawford. The case claimed Missouri's past hiring of incompetent or unqualified execution team members, and failure to properly train them, posed constitutional problems.

The Missouri Attorney General claims any uncertainty over the lethal injection in Missouri has been cleared up.

August 2010: Missouri Supreme Court sets an October execution for Roderick Nunley.

September 2010: Hospira, the only U.S. manufacturer of the lethal injection anesthetic sodium thiopental announces it is out of the drug until as late as March 2011 and states its opposition to the drug being used in lethal injections.

October 2010: Roderick Nunley is granted a stay of execution because he was not tried by a jury.

December 2010: The Missouri Supreme Court sets a January 12 execution for Richard Clay.

— Compiled by Rania Spooner

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