December 9, 2013

Execution stay issued in murder of Excelsior Springs businessman

Allen Nicklasson is scheduled to die by lethal injection early Wednesday for the 1994 killing of Excelsior Springs resident Richard Drummond

Richard Drummond’s last act was one of kindness.

The Excelsior Spring’s man benevolence was paid back with two bullets to his head, fired by one of the men he had tried to help.

On Wednesday morning, the man who killed Drummond along a mid-Missouri road in 1994 is scheduled to be executed.

Barring a last-minute stay, Allen Nicklasson will be the second person put to death in what was dubbed the “Good Samaritan” killing. The state executed co-defendant Dennis Skillicorn in 2009.

The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant Nicklasson a stay of execution to allow him time and resources to make a case for clemency.

But a three-judge panel of the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 late Monday afternoon to grant a stay based on Nicklasson’s claim that his attorney at trial and sentencing was ineffective. However, the state is expected to ask the full court to overturn that stay.

It is typical in pending execution cases for legal action to reach the U.S. Supreme Court and continue right up to the time of execution, which in Nicklasson’s case is scheduled for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

Drummond, 47, the father of three daughters, spotted a car broken down along a road while on a business trip in August 1994.

He stopped to help.

He didn’t know that Nicklasson, Skillicorn and a teenage accomplice named Tim DeGraffenreid had been on a drug-buying trip and had just burglarized a nearby home.

Drummond offered to give them a ride to a pay phone. But after the three got into the car, Nicklasson pointed a .22-caliber pistol at Drummond and told him to drive.

They drove west on Interstate 70 into Lafayette County, where Drummond was ordered to exit the highway. They told him to stop in a secluded area. Nicklasson forced Drummond to walk to a nearby stand of trees and shot him.

After dropping off DeGraffenreid back in the Kansas City area, Nicklasson and Skillicorn fled the state. Their journey led them to Arizona, where three days later their car got stuck in soft sand.

They walked to a nearby home, and a man there offered to help them. They killed him and his wife, and kept heading west.

Arrested later in California, they ultimately were convicted and sentenced to death in Drummond’s murder.

Nicklasson, 41, was to have been executed Oct. 23, but Gov. Jay Nixon halted the execution over concerns about propofol, the lethal injection drug Missouri planned to employ. The European manufacturer of the drug, which is widely used as a surgical anesthetic in the United States, had warned that its use in executions would trigger import sanctions and a nationwide shortage.

The Department of Corrections switched to a different drug, pentobarbital, which it employed for the first time in the Nov. 20 execution of Joseph Paul Franklin.

Attorneys for Franklin had sought to halt his execution because of questions about the new drug and Missouri’s use of a compounding pharmacy to supply it. A federal judge granted the stay, but the 8th Circuit lifted it. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to reverse the appeals court, and Franklin was put to death.

Members of Drummond’s family did not want to be interviewed for this story, according to a spokeswoman for the Missouri attorney general’s office, which is in contact with them.

Nicklasson’s attorney did not return calls or emails seeking an interview with Nicklasson.

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