Missouri executing prisoners before appeals are exhausted

The coroner will put down “homicide” as the cause of death, since he was killed by a person. It’s just not murder, at least in most cases.

Well, it’s one person deliberately or recklessly [in this case deliberately] killing another, so it’s murder in my everyday English. [Some people insist executions, legal or illegal, aren’t murder in their everyday English. I don’t believe them. Of course there are different definitions in Lawspeak, but half are doublespeak.]


To provide a bit of context - Smalls was found guilty of murdering a jewellery store owner during an armed robbery that he led, and also found guilty of shooting the store owners wife and leaving her for dead - Smalls was caught by police 15 minutes after the robbery whilst he was still in possession of the murder weapon and the stolen jewellery. The request for a stay of execution didn’t make reference to new evidence suggesting that Smalls was innocent.

Whether you agree with the death penalty or not, it’s likely incontrovertible that his conviction was safe in this instance, as Smalls was identified by the surviving victim he thought he had killed: Smalls was guilty of the crime he was imprisoned for.

There were three stays of execution in place preventing Missouri from carrying out the execution which were each lifted during the day in question - this suggests the decision to execute him, right or wrong, had been taken.

The fact that his legal council managed to file another request for a stay of execution at the 11th hour speaks to the tireless nature of his defence, and it’s laudable, however a request for a stay doesn’t have legal force, so what Missouri did was lawful.

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Just as it’s likely that most people placed under arrest are guilty of a crime. Likely isn’t good enough.


Right. I’m pro-death penalty myself, but the fact is that if you are going to employ this method of justice, you cannot be wrong.

I have no problem with setting a higher standard in such a case, and at minimum, the accused needs to be provided with every reasonable opportunity to prove their innocence.

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Because under the law there’s a definition of murder, and this case doesn’t fit the definition. Your feelings of outrage don’t repeal the law.

Tell you what; you can have your death penalties and even ‘eager effectuation’ on certain conditions:-
if the executed person is later found to innocent, or the conviction in any way found to be unsafe, then the judge, jury, prosecuting attorneys, executioner & prison governor, state governor, any journalists or commentators that screamed for the death, and police that ‘instigated’ the case shall be executed.
Oh, and there shall be a very well funded special force that aggressively investigates every death sentence and gets rewards for finding improper convictions.
Then let’s see how many of these ‘obvious’ or ‘couldn’t be anyone else’ convictions there are…


Not a lawyer, but how is this not a crime? Contempt of court, at the very least, if not outright murder, with conspiracy to commit charges all around.


Did anyone read the article, or just the BB blurb? It states, quite clearly, that there were no legal stays to execution.

A letter from an attorney saying, “please wait we’re trying something else,” is not a part of the legal system.

If any court, at any point felt that they might be overturned on appeal, they would stay their own judgement pending appeal.

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…is why the state is named misery.

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I just wrote. Thanks for the link! I asked if they would clarify whether or not they were executing people before due process was completed and if so, do they plan more extra-judicial killings in the future?

Which is exactly the reason to abolish the death penalty.

Just think about where you work, for instance. Think about the incompetence, the bureaucracy and the brain-dead rules that sometimes exist. Do you really think the justice system is any better? They have no business being in the business of executing people.


Is that the same as if someone was killed in self-defence?

In the UK, coroners have separate “lawful killing” and “unlawful killing” verdicts. Lawful killing means self-defence and the like*- I don’t know if it was used for executions when we still had the death penalty or whether execution was a separate verdict.

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There are still cases where guilt can be (and is) proven not just beyond a reasonable doubt, but with absolute certainty.

When this is the case, and the crime is particularly heinous, I have no problem with execution- Not as punishment, not as a deterrent, but as the only way to guarantee that they will never hurt anyone again.

This is an interesting justification, because if the real purpose of capital punishment is “to guarantee the convict will never hurt anyone again” then it’s directed at a subset of society that is already very unlikely to hurt anyone again. The recidivism rate for murder is actually pretty low, especially when the perpetrator is already living on death row. You’re much more likely to be killed by some random schlub on the street than by someone who is already confined in a supermax prison.


There are three reasons people commit crimes: Profit, passion, and pathology.

People who commit a crime during a period of emotional duress- Crimes of passion- need counselling. With the proper treatment, they are unlikely to repeat their offense, or at least the risk can be greatly mitigated.

People who commit a crime because they expect to gain something- Money, power, secrecy, whatever- They need to be punished, they need to make restitution when possible. Deterrents are actually effective against them in many cases, and it is often possible for them to “pay their debt to society” and move on.

People who commit crimes because they can’t help themselves, or out of the sheer joy of it- child molesters, serial killers, violent sex offenders- They can’t be cured, they can’t be contained. They need to be put down like rabid dogs. And quite frankly, if the only type of justice or closure that their victims can have is seeing them twist on a rope, I’m not exactly going to shed tears over it.

Prison the way we currently handle it, causes more problems than it solves- and just because prisoners are assaulting, murdering, and raping each other doesn’t mean it’s less of a crime. When you have people who begin to feel more comfortable inside a prison than out, it’s no longer a punishment or a deterrent.

Take someone vicious, capable, and unrepentant: Keeping them in full-time solitary is cruel and unusual. Killing them is cruel and unusual. Allowing them contact with other prisoners puts their lives in danger. So what do we do? Justify allowing them to murder each other? Or try to split hairs on which punishmet is less cruel and unusual?

There are no good answers here. Only bad and innefective choices, or bad and consequential choices. I prefer to err on the side of leaving the most options available.

Keeping a convict alive allows the option of reviewing their case to see if someone made a mistake. It allows the option of waiting to see if a convict finds remorse. It even allows the option of some as-yet-undiscovered future neurotherapy that could turn a violent psychotic into a normal human being.

Killing the convict reduces those options to zero.


I find it ironic (and by “ironic,” I mean “head-slappingly unsurprising”) that the same people who are for the death penalty often believe equally strongly in the government’s general incompetence, waste, and uselessness.


I personally think that life imprisonment / “whole life tariffs” are the best solution - even if 1% of death penalty convictions turn out to be unsafe, then we have the possibility to appeal and free the people who are actually innocent - whereas the death penalty is irrevocable. I get the sense that Smalls was as guilty as they come and his guilt was beyond any reasonable doubt, but housing people like him for life in prison is the cost we should accept to protect society against killers and to protect inmates against miscarriages of justice. People in prison should always be allowed an appeal if there is new evidence which suggests they are innocent - enforcing a death penalty removes such an option.


The right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

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