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Missouri senators seek quicker executions for kidnap killers

Updated: 2014-02-27T04:28:08Z

The Associated Press

— On the same day Missouri executed an inmate for a long-ago kidnapping and slaying, Republican state senators proposed legislation Wednesday intended to speed up the executions of people convicted of killing their kidnapping victims.

The Timely Justice Act would limit extensions for appeals and set deadlines for the Missouri Supreme Court to hear cases and schedule executions for people sentenced to death on kidnapping and murder convictions.

Supporters said victims’ families often must wait too long for defendants’ sentences to be carried out.

The bill was filed hours after Michael Taylor was executed at a Missouri prison for the 1989 abduction, rape and stabbing death of 15-year-old Ann Harrison. She was kidnapped by Taylor and Roderick Nunley while waiting for a school bus in the driveway of her home in southeast Kansas City. Nunley also was sentenced to death and has not yet been executed.

Taylor originally was to be executed in 2006, but that was halted because of a legal challenge to the three-drug lethal injection mixture Missouri used at the time. The state since has switched to a single-drug method and has carried out four executions in the past four months.

The Missouri legislation comes a little over a week after another child kidnapping and killing garnered national attention. Ten-year-old Hailey Owens was abducted Feb. 18 while walking to her Springfield home and later fatally shot in the head. Her funeral was Wednesday

Authorities have charged Craig Michael Wood with kidnapping, armed criminal action and first-degree murder.

Sen. Dan Brown cited Hailey’s death while filing the legislation that is co-sponsored by 13 other senators.

“This act may not bring justice for little Hailey but hopefully will serve as a warning to those who might commit such heinous crimes that we will not stand by while they rack up decades in prison,” Brown, a Rolla Republican, said in a written statement.

Under the legislation, the Missouri Supreme Court would need to hear arguments in a case within six months of submission of the last written argument. The high court would have another six months to issue its decision. The measure also would require the court to issue a warrant to carry out the execution no more than 10 days after the defendant’s state and federal appeals have ended.

Lawmakers seek execution oversight

A Missouri House panel is considering legislation to give lawmakers oversight over the state’s execution procedures.

Republican Rep. Eric Burlison said Wednesday that his bill would make Missouri’s lethal injection method more transparent and accountable to the public.

The measure would require the state Corrections Department to submit a formal outline of an execution procedure to a legislative panel. The panel could then conduct hearings and take public comment on the proposed execution method. The full legislature would also be able to veto the proposed method.

Missouri has executed four inmates using pentobarbital, a powerful sedative acquired from a compounding pharmacy. Burlison cited the state’s refusal to reveal the identity of the pharmacy as the motivation for his legislation.

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