Friday, 22 August 2008

Clemency petition postpones Skillicorn execution

Clemency petition postpones Skillicorn execution

JEFFERSON CITY | The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday postponed the scheduled execution of Dennis Skillicorn to give his lawyers more time to gather information for a clemency petition.

Skillicorn, 49, of Kansas City, is on death row for the murder of an Excelsior Springs man in 1994. He was scheduled to be executed next Wednesday.

The court denied a petition by Skillicorn’s lawyers to overturn his conviction and death sentence and to sentence him instead to life in prison.

The execution would be the first in Missouri in nearly three years and the first in the state since the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the use of lethal injection in April.

The court order gives Skillicorn’s lawyers 30 more days to interview prisoners and prison staff members for a petition seeking clemency from Gov. Matt Blunt.

In their motion, lawyers for Skillicorn accused prison officials of “putting their thumbs on death’s side of the scales” by interfering with lawyers’ ability to gather facts that could be used in a clemency petition.

Prison officials last month issued a directive banning interviews with prisoners who might be able to provide information in support of clemency for Skillicorn and other death-row inmates, the petition says.

The directive could prevent the governor from hearing facts that might change his mind about Skillicorn’s death sentence, lawyers said.

Since going to prison, Skillicorn has become the editor of a magazine published by death-row inmates, written a book for troubled youths, founded a program for families with incarcerated parents and led the prison’s hospice program for terminally ill offenders, according to the Missouri Catholic Conference, which has asked the governor to grant him clemency.

According to the court order, his execution will be rescheduled for the first date available after 30 days from Aug. 27.

Skillicorn and Allen Nicklasson were sentenced to death for killing Richard Drummond, a telephone-company supervisor who stopped to help them when their car broke down on Interstate 70. Nicklasson is also on death row.

To reach Jason Noble, call 573-634-3565 or send e-mail to

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