Thursday, 14 June 2007

Appeals Court Restores Missouri’s Executions

Tracy Allen

He lived two decades longer than his victim breathed life, but soon Michael Anthony Taylor could find himself breathing his last breath. A three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a ban on Missouri’s executions giving way for the state to continue with the executions of inmates sentenced to death. Taylor, a Kansas City man who was sentenced to death following the kidnapping, rape and murder of Kansas City teenager Ann Harrison in east Kansas City in 1989, may very well have seen his last days. Harrison, a 15-year-old, was snatched from a school bus stop by Taylor and accomplice Roderick Nunley, taken to a home, brutally raped and murdered. Her body was found hours later in a car trunk.

While Taylor has fought with his attorneys to stay alive and argued that Missouri’s lethal injection process caused cruel and unusual punishment, a panel agreed June 4 that it did not, in fact, violate the Constitutional rights of Taylor or any other state inmate sentenced to death. Taylor’s attorneys have asked for a review of the court’s decision and is considering petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court. Taylor was scheduled to die in early 2006 but a last minute effort by his lawyers and a June 2006 decision by U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. argued successfully that executions in Missouri cease until the state Department of Corrections repair flaws to its procedure of lethal injection.

In that ruling, Judge Gaitan stated that Missouri’s “current method of administering lethal injections subjects condemned inmates to an unacceptable risk of suffering unconstitutional pain and suffering.” Last Monday, an Appeals Court saw otherwise.

While Taylor’s attorneys fight for his life, some friends of the family can only hope for a different outcome. In a summer interview in 2006 with THE CALL, Peggy Vroom, a friend of the Taylor family, said: “Sadly, I believe they’ll eventually execute (Michael). They’re not going to fall through nor will they waver. I like to have my faith and hang on to that idea but I don’t feel they’ll give him what he rightfully deserves, a jury trial. And the reason is I have no faith in this judicial system. The judicial system is represented by a blindfold and a lot of guys are sitting in prison simply because of the color of their skin. They are teaching these kids, black and white, and telling them there is no hope, there is no way around this,” Ms. Vroom said. Unless Taylor and other inmates sentenced to death can argue differently, the death penalty in Missouri will return again. And for individuals like Kansas City’s Taylor, that could mean the end of life.

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