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May 3, 2022

Missouri completes execution of murderer who had death sentences reversed three times

As reported in this AP piece, a "Missouri man who killed a couple during a robbery at their rural home more than a quarter of a century ago was put to death Tuesday, becoming just the fifth person executed in the United States this year."  Here is more:

Carman Deck, 56, died by injection at the state prison in Bonne Terre.  He was pronounced dead at 6:10 p.m.  His fate was sealed a day earlier when neither the U.S. Supreme Court nor Republican Gov. Mike Parson stepped in to halt the execution.  Deck’s death sentence was overturned three times before for procedural issues.

Just four other people have been executed in the U.S. in 2022— Donald Anthony Grant and Gilbert Ray Postelle in Oklahoma, Matthew Reeves in Alabama and Carl Wayne Buntion last month in Texas.  Eleven people were executed in the U.S. last year, the fewest since 1988.

Court records show that Deck, of the St. Louis area, was a friend of the grandson of James and Zelma Long in De Soto, about 45 miles southwest of St. Louis. He knew the couple, in their late 60s, kept a safe in their home....  Deck ordered the couple to lie on their stomachs on their bed.  Court records said Deck stood there for 10 minutes deciding what to do, then shot James Long twice in the head before doing the same thing to Zelma Long....

Prosecutors said Deck later gave a full account of the killings in oral, written and audiotaped statements.  He was sentenced to death in 1998, but the Missouri Supreme Court tossed the sentence due to errors by Deck’s trial lawyer.  The U.S. Supreme Court threw out his second sentence in 2005, citing the prejudice caused by Deck being shackled in front of the sentencing jury.

He was sentenced to death for a third time in 2008.  Nine years later, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry determined that “substantial” evidence arguing against the death penalty in Deck’s first two penalty phases was unavailable for the third because witnesses had died, couldn’t be found or declined to cooperate.  In October 2020, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored the death penalty, ruling that Deck should have raised his concern first in state court, not federal court.  Appeals of that ruling were unsuccessful.

May 3, 2022 at 08:23 PM | Permalink

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