|
|
The Lake News Online
  • Bill seeks quicker executions for kidnapping murderers

  • On the same day Missouri executed an inmate for a long-ago kidnapping and slaying, Republican state senators proposed legislation Wednesday intended to speed up the executions of people convicted of killing their kidnaping victims. But a lake-area prosecuting attorney says that rewriting review processes for separate crimes doesn’t make sense.
    • email print
      Comment
  • On the same day Missouri executed an inmate for a long-ago kidnapping and slaying, Republican state senators proposed legislation Wednesday intended to speed up the executions of people convicted of killing their kidnaping victims. But a lake-area prosecuting attorney says that rewriting review processes for separate crimes doesn’t make sense.
    The Timely Justice Act would limit extensions for appeals and set deadlines for the state Supreme Court to hear cases and schedule executions for people sentenced to death on kidnapping and murder convictions.
    Supporters said victims' families often must wait too long for defendants' sentences to be carried out.
    The bill was filed just hours after Michael Taylor was executed at a Missouri prison for the 1989 abduction, rape and stabbing death of 15-year-old Ann Harrison. She was kidnapped by Taylor and Roderick Nunley while waiting for a school bus in the driveway of her home. Nunley also was sentenced to death and has not yet been executed.
    Taylor originally was to be executed in 2006, but that was halted because of a legal challenge to the three-drug lethal injection mixture Missouri used at the time. The state since has switched to a single-drug method and has carried out four executions in the past four months.
    The Missouri legislation comes a little over a week after another child kidnapping and killing garnered national attention. Ten-year-old Hailey Owens was abducted Feb. 18 while walking to her Springfield home and later fatally shot in the head. Her funeral was Wednesday.
    Authorities have charged Craig Michael Wood with kidnapping, armed criminal action and first-degree murder. Woods' lawyer has said he plans to plead not guilty.
    State Sen. Dan Brown (R-16) cited Hailey's death while filing the legislation that is co-sponsored by 13 other senators.
    "This act may not bring justice for little Hailey, but hopefully will serve as a warning to those who might commit such heinous crimes that we will not stand by while they rack up decades in prison," Brown, who also represents the lake area, said in a written statement.
    Camden County Prosecutor Brian Keedy spoke out about the proposed bill.
    Keedy said he is in favor of any effort to create some order out of the chaos that pervades death penalty appeals and post-conviction reviews.  He added that it should not take 20 to 25 years to complete all the reviews in death penalty cases and that the families of victims deserve better.  In the words of former Chief Justice Warren Burger, "inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value," Keedy said.
    Any effort to change what has become untenable and bring some order to the process needs to be comprehensive and apply to all death penalty cases and not just those involving kidnapping, according to Keedy.
    Page 2 of 2 - "In my mind there is no justification for having a separate review process for kidnapping cases," he said.
    Keedy said while  the kidnapping and murder of  Hailey Owens has profoundly horrified us all, the reorganization of the laws applicable to the execution of death sentences should not be done piecemeal.   Rather it should be done thoughtfully, deliberately, comprehensively and with a clear understanding of how the law will work when applied to real cases.
    "My hope is that the filing of Senate Bill 945 will be the first step in that process and that the senseless murders of Ann and Hailey and many, many others will continue to motivate us to do better in protecting free people and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public streets," he said.
    Under the legislation, the Missouri Supreme Court would need to hear arguments in a case within six months of submission of the last written argument. The high court would have another six months to issue its decision. The measure also would require the court to issue a warrant to carry out the execution no more than 10 days after the defendant's state and federal appeals have ended.
     
    —Lake Sun reporter Spree Hilliard contributed to this report in conjunction with a story by the Associated Press

        calendar