UPDATE: Missouri executes St. Louis girl's killer

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 | 2:40 p.m. CST; updated 11:04 a.m. CST, Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BONNE TERRE — A Missouri man convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing an 11-year-old girl whose body was dumped along a river was put to death early Wednesday, the first execution in the state in nearly two years.

Martin Link, 47, died by injection at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre. His fate was sealed when Gov. Jay Nixon denied a clemency request on Monday and several appeals failed to persuade the courts to intervene.

Death row inmates from Boone County

Ernest Lee Johnson has been on death row since 1995. He was convicted of the 1994 killings of Fred Jones, Mary Bratcher and Mable Scruggs, employees at a Casey's General Store on Ballenger Lane in Columbia. He has appealed his sentence to the Missouri Supreme Court, based on evidence that he is mentally disabled and therefore not eligible for the death penalty. A decision is pending.

Earl Ringo Jr. has been on death row since 1999. He was convicted in the 1998 murders of JoAnna Baysinger, manager of the Ruby Tuesday on Stadium Boulevard, and Dennis Poyser, a food delivery man. He has challenged his sentence based on his claim that the federal law requires a doctor to prescribe or administer the sodium thiopental used in an execution.

Convicts executed for Boone County crimes

  • Gary Lee Roll, executed Aug. 3, 2000
  • Ralph Davis, executed April 28, 1999
  • Floyd Cochran, executed Sept. 26, 1947

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Attorney Jennifer Herndon's efforts to spare Link's life belied his own indifference. Link tried to commit suicide by slashing his wrist in 2008 and spent his last few years in prison in solitary confinement, Herndon said.

The execution was the first in Missouri since May 2009 and just the second since early 2006.

Elissa Self-Braun disappeared on the morning of Jan. 11, 1991, while walking to catch a school bus to take her to a school for gifted children in St. Louis. Police and neighbors began a frantic search.

Four days later, the girl's body was found amid debris on the banks of the St. Francis River, some 135 miles south of St. Louis.

Later that month, police in suburban St. Louis saw a car with a headlight out and tried to pull it over. Link was the driver. He sped away and crashed.

Inside the car, officers found petroleum jelly with flecks of blood. Meanwhile, investigators took DNA evidence from Elissa's body. Link's DNA matched that DNA; the girl's DNA matched the DNA in the blood found in the petroleum jelly jar.

Executions in Missouri and elsewhere were on hold for years as the courts decided whether lethal injection could violate the inmate's constitutional guarantee against cruel and unusual punishment. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June cleared the way for executions to resume.

Prison officials in many of the 35 states with the death penalty are struggling with a shortage of one of the three drugs used in executions, sodium thiopental, which is an anesthetic that renders the condemned inmate unconscious before the other drugs kill him.

Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Chris Cline said Missouri had about 40 units of sodium thiopental in stock before Link's execution, and it takes about 10 units for each execution. Missouri's supply of sodium thiopental expires March 1. The state has no further executions scheduled before then.

Link's execution comes about a month after Nixon stepped in to spare the life of another condemned man, Richard Clay, who was convicted in a southeast Missouri murder-for-hire plot. Days before Clay was scheduled to die, Nixon commuted his sentence to life in prison without parole, but refused to say why — though he said he remained convinced that Clay was guilty.

Since 2005, Missouri's executions have taken place at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, which is 30 miles east of the Potosi Correctional Center, where death row inmates are housed.

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mike aichs February 8, 2011 | 3:11 p.m.

I hope he feels it.

(Report Comment)
Chip Leaver February 8, 2011 | 6:47 p.m.

Percy, is that you? ;)

(Report Comment)
Channon Haley February 9, 2011 | 12:39 p.m.

I can't believe our tax dollars had to support a scum bag like this for 10 years in jail, good riddance to another pervert who ruined a families life forever and terrorized a community. We need to be executing more individuals (sadly, it's mostly men who do this) for the crimes of rape/sodomy against the innocent in our society.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 9, 2011 | 12:58 p.m.

Channon Haley February 9, 2011 | 12:39 p.m.: "We need to be executing more individuals (sadly, it's mostly men who do this) for the crimes of rape/sodomy against the innocent in our society."

I was almost in complete agreement, until I got to the last sentence that I listed above......

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Channon Haley February 9, 2011 | 1:33 p.m.

Ok Rick please post examples of women being put to death for brutally raping, sodomizing and killing children? All I'm saying is men perpetrate these crimes at a higher rate than woman. And just to keep it close to home please only post Missouri cases (or how about Missouri and any other state that borders Missouri). Have you looked at the sex offenders list lately? Yes there are women on there but what is the percentage of men vs. women on this list? That is what I'm basing my opinions you go: out of 258 registered sex offenders in Boone County I counted 10 women the other 248 are all men.....

So you're saying that I'm wrong...that men do not perpetrate these types of crimes at a higher rate/frequency? Because that list (for Boone County) shows that there are more MEN than women doing this.

(Report Comment)
Channon Haley February 9, 2011 | 1:55 p.m.

Provided by the U.S. Department of Justice,
Bureau of Justice Statistics on Child Sexual Abuse;
summaries of noteworthy research findings:

Inmate interviews in 277 prisons in 45 states, conducted during 1991, revealed:

Of all prisoners convicted of rape or sexual assault, two-thirds victimized children;
Three out of four child victims were female;
Offenders typically preyed on children they knew, not strangers;
Eighty-eight percent had a prior relationship with their victims;
Prisoners convicted of attacking children were mostly male (97 percent);
Almost 70 were percent white;

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 9, 2011 | 2:08 p.m.


I was thinking more along the lines of the damage that is done to children that are victims of sexual abuse by adults. When you think about that damage, it is pretty bad too..

You know, things like say for example a Dentist's wife getting high school aged children over to her hosue, giving them alcoholic beverages and then coercing them into sex...... Ohh, just an example off of the top of my head....

It's not murder, but the mindset and mentality in women that do things like that is just about as bad..... Perhaps the level of violence is not there, but the criminal mentality that causes females in such cases that I mentioned above, diregard the welfare and safety of the child is about the same...

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 9, 2011 | 2:11 p.m.

Also Channon, while you are doing research, look at the comparison between leniency from the courts towards females versus males..

Well, you don't even have to do that.. Just tell me how many Women's Prisons are in the state of Missouri and how many Men's Prisons are in the state of Missouri....?

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 9, 2011 | 2:25 p.m.

Sexual misconduct by police officers in the US is more than twice as prevalent than by the general public, and more than half of all victims of police sexual assault (the more serious "violence" subset of misconduct) are against minors.

Just sayin...

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley February 9, 2011 | 2:29 p.m.

Well Derrick,

They ARE Police Officers, so they get a free pass on any criminal activity that they are involved in... Just ask our Prosecutors..

Ricky Gurley.

(Report Comment)
Channon Haley February 9, 2011 | 3:30 p.m.

Too much for me to sort through but in MO there are far more men in prison than women in the state of MO. Check out page 16 & then jump to page 19. It's full of interesting information.

For example FY2009 there were 130 females vs. 4,565 males locked up for sex offenses.

@Rick - I agree that what women do is no less worse than what men do whether it be inciting a child or out right raping them, they deserve to be locked up and taken out of society. Preying on the children and innocent in our communities should not be tolerated in any way.
I think (my opinion) why women get "lesser" sentences is because men tend to perpetrate more violence towards their victims(as if rape wasn't enough), they are more likely to kill, torture, sodomize, kidnap and/or hold hostage for years (as what happened w/Jaycee Dugard recently, 18 years she was held hostage and raped)....

(Report Comment)

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