Jeffrey Ferguson, 59, was convicted twice for killing 17-year-old
Kelli Hall, kidnapping her with an accomplice as she ended her
evening shift at a metropolitan St. Louis service station on
February 9, 1989. The girl's naked body was found less than two
Ferguson is scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. local time on
Wednesday at a state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri. He would be
the third man executed in Missouri this year.
Ferguson's first conviction in 1992 was overturned due to a problem
with the jury instructions. He was convicted in a second trial and
again sentenced to death.
Attorneys for Ferguson have filed several appeals to try to delay or
halt his execution. His attorneys argue, among other things, that an
FBI agent gave false and misleading testimony at his trial.
A group of death penalty opponents have asked Missouri Governor Jay
Nixon to grant Ferguson clemency.
"Society will gain nothing from executing him. He is not the same
man he was 25 years ago," said Rita Linhardt, a spokeswoman for
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
But Eric Slusher, a spokesman for the state attorney general's
office, said there was nothing currently prohibiting the state from
carrying out the sentence as planned.
According to prosecutors, Ferguson had been out drinking at a bar
with a friend and then went to meet another friend at the gas
station where Hall was ending her shift. Hall was checking the fuel
levels in the station tanks when a witness saw her forced into the
back seat of a vehicle by a white male.
The next day a maintenance worker found Hall's coat and clothes
discarded at the side of the road. A farmer later found her battered,
frozen body hidden in a machinery shed.
Ferguson's execution comes at a time when Missouri, and several U.S.
states, are under fire for turning to lightly regulated compounding
pharmacies for their lethal injection drugs. Major pharmaceutical
companies have stopped allowing sales of their drugs for executions,
leaving U.S. states scrambling to come up with alternatives.
[to top of second column]
Two executions planned for March in Oklahoma were postponed until
April after the state said it was having trouble obtaining the drugs
it needs to perform executions.
Advocates for inmates say drugs from compounding pharmacies can lack
purity and potency and cause undue suffering in violation of the
U.S. Constitution's protections against cruel and unusual
Ferguson is one of a group of Missouri inmates who sued state
officials in 2012 in a challenge to the constitutionality of the
state's execution protocols. The case is set for trial September 15.
Missouri has since made a series of changes to its execution
protocols. The state is now under scrutiny for adding layers of
secrecy to its practices, including its efforts to source drugs from
compounding pharmacies. The state has also been criticized for
carrying out executions while appeals are awaiting court review.
(Reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City;
editing by Ken Wills)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.