Missouri executes Leon Taylor for 1994 killing

2014-11-19 14:17
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Bonne Terre - A man who killed a suburban Kansas City gas station attendant in front of the worker's young stepdaughter in 1994 was put to death early on Wednesday, the ninth execution in the US state of Missouri this year.

Leon Taylor, aged 56, was pronounced dead at 12:22 at the state prison in Bonne Terre, minutes after receiving a lethal injection. With Taylor's death, 2014 ties 1999 for having the most executions in a year in Missouri.

Taylor shot worker Robert Newton to death in front of Newton's 8-year-old stepdaughter during a gas station robbery in Independence, Missouri. Taylor tried to kill the girl, too, but the gun jammed.

Taylor's fate was sealed on Tuesday when Governor Jay Nixon declined to grant clemency and the US Supreme Court turned down his appeal.

Taylor, his body covered by a white sheet, could be seen in the execution chamber talking to family members through the glass in an adjacent room. Once the state started injecting 5g of pentobarbital, Taylor's chest heaved for several seconds then stopped. His jaw went slack and he displayed no other movement for the rest of the process.

Four of Taylor's family members sat in a room to his left and looked on without reaction as the drug killed Taylor in about eight minutes.

At a time when executions have gone awry in Oklahoma, Ohio and Arizona and taking an extended period to kill an inmate, Taylor's execution went off without any visible hitches or complications with the drug or equipment.

Gun jammed

In a final statement, Taylor apologised to Newton's family because "our lives had to entwine so tragically" and thanked his family for their support and love.

"I am also sorry to have brought all of you to this point in my life to witness this and/or participate", Taylor said. "Stay strong and keep your heads to the sky."

Speaking to reporters after the execution, Newton's brother, Dennis Smith, noted that it had been about 7 500 days since the killing and said the family has missed Newton every one of them. Smith described Newton as a hard worker, generous and with a memorable laugh. At times, Smith paused to compose himself as tears rolled down his cheeks.

"It would just take a coward to want to hurt someone like him", Smith said.

Taylor's last meal consisted of eggs, bacon, doughnuts and an orange drink. O'Connell said Taylor later turned down the sedative Valium and the sedative midazolam.

According to court records, Taylor, his half brother and half sister decided to rob a gas station on 14 April 1994. Newton was at the station with his stepdaughter.

Taylor entered the store, drew a gun and told Newton, aged 53, to put $400 in a money bag. Newton complied and the half brother, Willie Owens, took the money to the car.

Taylor then ordered Newton and the child to a back room. Newton pleaded with Taylor not to shoot him in front of the little girl, but Taylor shot him in the head. He tried to kill the girl but the gun jammed, so he locked her in the room and the trio drove away.

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