A Missouri prisoner, who was sentenced to death nearly three decades ago for killing an elderly woman, will be the first to be executed since the corona virus pandemic was announced, and several other states have dropped the case due to social distancing issues. .
Walter Barton, 64, dies from a lethal injection for killing 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler in 1991, but a jury recently said that ‘convincing’ new evidence made them ‘uncomfortable’ about the conviction.
But a federal appeals court on Sunday overturned a 30-day court-ordered execution two days earlier, and Missouri Republican Governor Mike Parson said on Monday that he hadn’t heard anything that would make him reconsider the execution, “according to plan. going forward’ . ‘
One of Barton’s lawyers, Fred Duchardt Jr., had previously said that Parson may not have the time to consider pardon because of the attention he needs to pay to deal with the corona virus.
He said the execution itself could also violate the social distance rules that Parson has imposed on the state.
Walter Barton, 64, is executed on Tuesday, in the first since Nathaniel Woods in Alabama on March 5
Missouri Department of Corrections spokeswoman said anyone who enters the prison in Bonne Terre will have their temperature checked and face-covered. Witnesses are divided into three rooms
Karen Pojmann, spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said everyone entering the prison will have their temperature checked and face-covered. Witnesses are divided into three rooms.
Those witnesses include an Associated Press reporter and other journalists and state witnesses, and people there to support Barton. No family members or other supporters of the victim plan to attend, Pojmann said.
If it continues, Barton will be the first person to be executed in the U.S. since Nathaniel Woods was put to death in Alabama on March 5.
Shortly after, attempts to limit the spread of the coronavirus shut down the U.S. economy and led to strict restrictions on social distance, including in prisons. Three states have set aside the executions in the past two and a half months.
Gladys Kuehler operated a mobile home park in the city of Ozark, Missouri, near Springfield. In October 1991, she was found dead in her bedroom. She had been beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed more than 50 times.
Barton has long said he was innocent, and his case has been jailed for years because of appeals, mistrials and two overturned convictions.
Barton received the death penalty for killing the mobile home park operator (scene is shown) Gladys Kuehler, 81, in 1991, but a jury recently said ‘convincing’ new evidence from an expert witness made them feel ‘uncomfortable’ about the conviction
Other states, including Ohio, Tennessee and Texas, have postponed the executions after lawyers alleged that pandemic-related closures prevented them from securing documents or conducting interviews for pardons and court appeals.
Lawyers also expressed concerns about interacting with individuals and potentially being exposed to the virus. And they have argued that the execution process, including placing prison staff and witnesses close together, could lead to the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
There are no confirmed cases of the prison virus housing the Missouri execution chamber in Bonne Terre, approximately 97 miles south of St. Louis.
Barton often spent time in the mobile home park that Kuehler operated. He was with her granddaughter and a neighbor on the evening of October 9, 1991, when they found Kuehler dead in her bedroom.
Police noticed what appeared to be blood stains on Barton’s clothes, and DNA tests later confirmed it was Kuehler’s. Barton said the spots must have occurred when he removed Kuehler’s granddaughter from the body.
The granddaughter first confirmed that story, but testified that Barton never entered the bedroom. A blood splatter expert during Barton’s trial said the three small spots were likely due to the blade’s ‘impact’.
The first attempt to prosecute Barton ended in a mistrial in 1993 after his lawyer objected that the prosecutors had not signed witnesses to trial.
Barton was convicted for the third time at his fifth trial, in 2006. The state’s Supreme Court upheld that conviction and the death penalty in 2007, but Barton has continued his appeal
The first attempt to prosecute Barton ended in a mistrial in 1993, after his lawyer objected to the prosecution’s failure to endorse witnesses. Another void suit was declared the same year after another jury stalled.
Barton was sentenced in 1994 and sentenced to death. The state’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction for objections to the prosecution’s latest arguments. Barton was convicted again and sentenced to death in 1998, but a new trial was brought again when a judge ruled that the prosecution had not made public the full background of one of his witnesses, among other crimes.
Barton was convicted for the third time at his fifth trial, in 2006. The state’s Supreme Court upheld that conviction and the death penalty in 2007, but Barton has continued his appeal.
In recent court charges, Barton’s attorney, Fred Duchardt Jr., cited the findings of another blood splatter expert. Lawrence Renner looked at Barton’s clothes and boots and concluded that the killer would have had much more blood stains.
Duchardt said that three judges recently signed affidavits calling Renner’s determination “compelling” and say it would have affected their deliberations. The jury leader said that based on the new evidence, he would have been “uncomfortable” to recommend the death penalty.
One of the judges even said they had “serious questions” about Barton’s fault, even at trial.
Barton’s attorney previously said to The Kansas City Star, “It’s a worse nightmare because evidence, never heard by the jury that delivered a judgment, undermines the main evidence used to convict.”
The expert said the killer could not have worn the clothes used in the evidence against Barton.
Former prosecutor Ron Cleek, who tried Barton’s fifth trial, said Barton deserves death, and was sentenced to life without parole at the time: “He had fair trials. He really got his full amount when it came down to it ‘
“I don’t know how anyone can look at the evidence and condemn him now,” Duchardt said.
But former prosecutor Ron Cleek, who tried Barton’s fifth trial, disagreed.
“He had fair trials. He really received his full amount when it came down to it. This last test I did was very clean, ” he said KSPR. “The victim gets her just in time. I think it was the right decision back then. It is now the right decision. His life is ended so that no one else can be injured. He is not an innocent man. ‘
The last execution in Texas, the busiest state of the death penalty in the country, was February 6.
Seven executions planned since then have been delayed. Six of the delays were related to the pandemic, while the seventh was related to claims that a death row prisoner is mentally disabled.
The next execution in Texas is scheduled for June 16. Officials have initiated a process that requires witnesses to be subjected to the same screening as prison personnel before entering the facility, said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jeremy Desel.
The screening includes questions based on possible exposure to the coronavirus and health studies.
The Texas death chamber is not a heavy traffic area and is isolated from all parts of the Huntsville prison and is constantly cleaned, Desel said.