Walter Barton– white, age 35 (re-sentence after an appellate reversal)
Sentenced to death in Cass County, Missouri
By: A judge, after a recommendation of death by a jury
Date of crime: October 1991
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Barton was convicted of fatally stabbing 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler in her trailer after going to her home to ask to borrow $20. Kuehler was stabbed 52 times and sexually assaulted. This is the fifth time Barton has been tried for the murder. Two mistrials were declared, while the other three trials resulted in death sentences. During the penalty phase, the state presented evidence of Barton criminal history which involved many violent crimes against women.
Prosecutor(s): Ron Cleek Defense lawyer(s): J. Christopher Spangler
Sources: State v. Missouri, 998 S.W.2d 19 (Aug. 3, 1999); Associated Press 7/7/06; 7/7/06
Gary Black – white, age 42 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)
Sentenced to death in Jasper County, Missouri
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 10/2/98
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Black’s girlfriend told him that victim Jason Johnson had intentionally brushed against her in a convenience store. Black (who was white) was enraged, and referred to Johnson (who was black) with racial slurs. Black drove after Johnson, caught him at an intersection, and stabbed him to death. Black had prior convictions for armed robbery and aggravated assault. Black claimed that he was acting in self-defense, and at worst that he was guilty of non-death-eligible second-degree murder because he lacked premeditation and deliberation. The Missouri Supreme Court had reversed an earlier death sentence due to ineffective assistance of counsel.
Prosecutor(s): Defense Lawyer(s):
Sources: AP Alert – Missouri 5/7/06.
Cite: Black v. State, 151 S.W.3d 49 (Mo. Sup. Ct. 2004).
Scott McLaughlin – white, age 31
Sentenced to death in St. Louis County, Missouri
By: A judge, after a jury deadlocked on the sentencing
Date of crime: Nov. 20, 2003
Prosecution’s case/defense response: McLaughlin was convicted of the first-degree murder, rape, and armed criminal action of his former girlfriend, Barbara Guenther. Defense attorneys acknowledged McLaughlin fatally stabbed Guenther in a parking lot, then had sex with her corpse before hiding the body, but that he lacked the “cool reflection” needed to prove first-degree murder. Prosecutors presented numerous letters Guenther wrote to document the stalking and harassing behavior she endured by McLaughlin.
Prosecutor(s): Defense lawyer(s): Robert Steele, David Kenyon
Sources: St. Louis Dispatch 9/26/06 (LexisNexis), 10/10/06 (LexisNexis), 11/4/06 (2006 WLNR 19181059); Associated Press 11/5/06 (Westlaw)
Ernest Lee Johnson – black, age 33 (re-sentence after appellate reversal)
Sentenced to death in Boone County, Missouri
By: A jury
Date of Crime: 2/12/94
Prosecution’s case/defense response: Johnson robbed a convenience store and bludgeoned three employees to death (and also shot one of them and stabbed one of them): Mary Bratcher, Mabel Scruggs, and Fred Jones. Johnson said he became enraged after Bratcher, the manager, tried to flush a key down the toilet. The defense presented mitigation evidence that Johnson was mentally retarded, and had suffered a horrible, impoverished upbringing.
Prosecutor(s): Kevin Crane Defense Lawyer(s): Jim Cisar, Elizabeth Carlyle
Sources: AP Alert – Oklahoma 5/13/06 (LEXIS USPAPR file); AP Alert – Missouri 6/13/06 (LEXIS USPAPR file); Columbia Daily Tribune 6/13/06 (2006 WLNR 10116763).
Cite: State v. Johnson, 968 S.W.2d 686 (Mo. Sup. Ct. 1998).