Taylor attorneys continue appeals despite setbacks
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Attorneys for Missouri death row inmate Michael Taylor continued efforts to spare his life after a federal judge on Monday turned down some of his requests for a stay of execution.
U.S. District Judge Beth Phillips refused to halt the execution based on separate claims that Missouri’s one-drug execution method could cause a painful death, and that the state in three recent executions violated its own protocol by putting inmates to death while court cases were still pending. Taylor’s attorney, John Simon, appealed to the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Phillips is still considering another stay request, a claim that Taylor had an ineffective attorney at his original trial.
Taylor, 47, is scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday for abducting, raping and killing a 15-year-old Kansas City girl in 1989.
The days leading up to his execution have been a flurry of activity involving the state’s execution method, using only pentobarbital.
A week ago, the Apothecary Shoppe, an Oklahoma-based compounding pharmacy, agreed it would not provide the drug for Taylor’s execution, leaving Missouri to scramble for an alternative. Two days later, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said in a court filing a different supplying pharmacy had been found.
The state refuses to name the new supplier — Missouri’s execution protocol provides anonymity.
“There is no reason to believe that the execution will not, like previous Missouri executions using pentobarbital, be rapid and painless,” Koster’s court filing read. A spokeswoman for Koster declined further comment Monday.
But Simon contends that since nothing is known about the pharmacy, there can be no guarantee that Taylor won’t suffer during the execution, which would be a violation of his constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment.
“The fact is that killing him will only devastate another family,” Simon said. “It will simply replicate the cycle of violence.”
Another appeal cited concerns about whether Missouri violates its own execution protocol by putting inmates to death before court cases are resolved. It said that all three of the recent executions — Joseph Paul Franklin in November, Allen Nicklasson in December and Herbert Smulls in January — occurred while appeals in three courts were still pending.
The state responded that attorneys for death row inmates file appeals without merit in the moments before executions, in part so that they can claim the execution proceeded unfairly.
Taylor and an accomplice, Roderick Nunley, abducted Ann Harrison while she was waiting for a school bus in Kansas City on March 22, 1989. She was raped and stabbed to death, her body left in the trunk of a car. Nunley is also on death row.
Still pending before Phillips is an appeal that Taylor’s trial attorney convinced him to plead guilty because she was unprepared for the case. Simon said it was Nunley who was responsible for the entire crime.
Taylor was hours away from being executed in 2006 when the procedure was halted by the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the three-drug lethal injection mixture Missouri was using at the time could constitute a cruel and unusual punishment if used incorrectly.
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