Killer of Missouri schoolgirl executed
after appeals dismissed
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[February 26, 2014]
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A
Missouri man was executed early on Wednesday for abducting a 15-year-old
girl as she waited for a school bus, then raping and murdering her,
authorities said after the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed a flurry of
petitions seeking a stay.
Michael Taylor died by lethal injection 25 years after he and an
accomplice killed Ann Harrison near her home in the Kansas City
The 47-year-old had pleaded guilty. But his attorneys launched a
string of appeals, including one asserting the drugs used for lethal
injection could subject him to a slow and tortuous death.
The U.S. Supreme Court denied several petitions on Tuesday night for
a last-minute stay or further judicial review sought on Taylor's
behalf by his attorney, John Simon.
"The abduction of Ann ... and her subsequent rape and murder, were
crimes so brutal that they remain seared in the minds of many Kansas
City residents," said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who had refused
to grant Taylor clemency earlier in the day.
Taylor made no last statement and was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m.
local time at a prison in Bonne Terre, said Mike O'Connell, a
spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety.
He also did not use his right to request a specific last meal and
was served potato soup and a sandwich, O'Connell added.
It was the state's 72nd execution since the death penalty was
reinstated there in the 1970s and the second this year.
"It may be a small victory for the State of Missouri but Michael has
won in the end," Taylor's family said in a statement reported by the
Kansas City Star newspaper.
"He has struggled for years with the guilt of not stopping a
horrendous crime, and has dedicated much of his time in prison to
the memory of Ann Harrison through his work with hospice, tutoring
and mentoring inside and outside the prison walls," the statement
Before the execution, Ann's mother Janel Harrison also made a public
statement, asking for justice. "There should be an ultimate
penalty," she said.
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Taylor's lawyers had also argued he should have been offered a life
sentence, or at least a sentencing by a jury instead of a judge -
and said that Missouri should allow all appeals to be exhausted
before they proceeded with the execution.
Death penalty opponents and a federal judge have criticized the
state for putting condemned inmates to death while petitions for a
stay are still pending.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had not completed its review
of previous death row inmate Allen Nicklasson's request for a stay
based on a challenge to Missouri's lethal injection drug protocol
when he was executed on December 11.
Circuit Judge Kermit Bye said in a written ruling after Nicklasson's
execution that Missouri's actions should undergo intense judicial
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has defended the state's
actions and said in a statement that Taylor has had more than enough
time to file appeals on any issue, and that his sentence has been
upheld repeatedly by the Missouri Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme
"It is ridiculous to suggest that Mr. Taylor should avoid his
execution by filing a flood of new paperwork," Koster said.
Taylor was narrowly spared from execution in 2006 by a late
court-ordered reprieve after revelations about problems with the
state's lethal injection practices at that time.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City and Eric M. Johnson in
Seattle; Editing by Steve Gorman and Lisa Shumaker)
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