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Missouri court switches inmate for execution date

Friday, August 8, 2014 | 8:06 a.m. CDT; updated 1:45 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 8, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Supreme Court canceled an impending execution for one man Thursday and instead scheduled a different inmate to die by lethal injection next month.

The court did not say why it rescinded its Sept. 10 execution order for Leon Taylor, but its decision came just a few days after Taylor's attorneys had indicated in a court document that they wouldn't have enough time to work on his case before the execution.

The Supreme Court instead ordered Earl Ringo Jr. to be put to death Sept. 10, continuing a pace this year of scheduling an execution each month in Missouri.

The court revised its execution schedule just a day after the state executed Michael Worthington, who was convicted of the 1995 rape and slaying of St. Louis-area college student Melinda Griffin.

Taylor was sentenced to death for the April 1994 fatal shooting of gas station attendant Robert Newton in Independence.

His attorney, Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, filed a court document Monday asking the Supreme Court to delay the execution. Carlyle said she had to participate in a federal court hearing between Aug. 18 and Sept. 11 for another client who also is on death row. She said her co-counsel, Gary Brotherton, is unable to work on Taylor's case for four to six weeks because of a reason that was filed under seal with the court.

"The situation has become untenable, and Mr. Taylor is essentially left without fully functioning counsel," Carlyle said in her motion requesting the execution be put on hold.

The Supreme Court withdrew its execution order, and so overruled Carlyle's motion.

Carlyle did not immediately return a telephone message Thursday.

Ringo, of Jeffersonville, Ind., was sentenced to death for a July 4, 1998, double slaying at a Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Columbia, where he was a former employee. Truck driver Dennis Poyser, of Fort Wayne, Ind., was fatally shot while making a morning delivery to the restaurant. Ringo said during his 1999 sentencing hearing that he shot Poyser after being surprised by him during a robbery.

Restaurant manager JoAnna Baysinger, of Jefferson City, also was fatally shot during the robbery. Ringo's accomplice, Quinton Jones Jr., of Louisville, Ky., testified under a plea agreement that Ringo had planned the robbery and encouraged him to shoot Baysinger. Ringo testified that he did not order Jones to shoot Baysinger.

Jones was sentenced to life in prison without parole.


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