Missouri inmate whose death sentence was overturned three times set to be executed today

Death penalty opponents say Missouri officials will commit ‘scripted, premeditated ‘legal’ homicide’ of inmate Carman Deck

<p>Carman Deck is due to be executed in Missouri’s Bonne Terre state prison on Tuesday</p>

Carman Deck is due to be executed in Missouri’s Bonne Terre state prison on Tuesday

Protests are being held around Missouri on Tuesday calling for a last-minute reprieve for death row inmate Carman Deck, who is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6pm at Bonne Terre state prison.

The 56-year-old double murderer’s hopes for a stay of proceedings were all but dashed on Monday when the US Supreme Court set aside his appeal, and Republican Governor Mike Parson declined a request for clemency.

Deck was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murders of James and Zelma Long during a robbery at their home in the eastern Missouri town of De Soto in July 1996.

His penalty has since been thrown out three times over procedural errors, before being reinstated by a federal appeals panel in October 2020.

Capital punishment opponents Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty are staging a series of “Vigils for Life” outside the governor’s office and State Capitol Building in Jefferson City, and Boone County Courthouse in Columbia.

In a statement, the group said Missouri officials planned to commit a “scripted, premeditated ‘legal’ homicide”.

“Gov Parson would serve the best interests of all Missourians and end a pattern of societal neglect (short of planned violent retribution) by the state system) by compassionately intervening, halting Deck’s execution and commuting his death sentence to life in prison,” the release said.

Deck’s execution has also been opposed by the Missouri Catholic Conference and the state chapters of the ACLU and NAACP.

Deck’s first death sentence was overturned by the Missouri Supreme Court after it found his attorney had committed serious errors at trial.

The US Supreme Court threw out a second death sentence in 2005, saying that Deck had been unfairly prejudiced after he was shackled in front of the sentencing jury.

After Deck was sentenced to death for a third time in 2008, a judge overturned the sentence because trial witnesses had not appeared or could not be found during the sentencing phase.

Then in October 2020, a three-judge panel of the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals restored the death penalty, ruling that Deck should have raised his concern first in state court, not federal court.

Deck’s attorney, Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, told KSDK the death sentences were “unconstitutional” due to the number of times they had been overturned on appeal.

A mugshot of Carman Deck, a Missouri man set to be executed on Tuesday

“No one is suggesting that Carman Deck should get out of prison and go home tomorrow,” Ms Carlyle told the Missouri news site.

A clemency petition on behalf of Deck cited abuse he suffered as a child, including sexual abuse and beatings. It also said he and his siblings often were left alone without food.

Deck’s only remaining hope of avoiding the injection is a last minute stay of execution.

Deck, who was from the St Louis area, was a friend of the grandson of James and Zelma Long and knew they kept a safe in their home De Soto, about 45 miles southwest of St. Louis, according to court records.

In July 1996, Deck and his sister stopped at the home under the guise of asking for directions. Deck told a detective that he wasn’t surprised to be invited inside by the couple, who were in their late 60s.

“They’re country folks,” Deck said, according to court records. “They always do.”

Once inside, Deck pulled a gun from his waistband. At Deck’s command, Zelma Long opened the safe and removed jewelry, then got $200 from her purse and more money hidden in a canister.

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.

He later made a full confession to law enforcement.

The victims’ daughter, Angela Rosener, told KSDK Deck’s death would bring her “peace of mind”.

“He doesn’t need to be pardoned or whatever else. He killed two people in cold blood.”

Ernest Johnson was put to death over the objections of Pope Francis

Last year Gov. Parson also denied clemency to death row inmate Ernest Johnson, despite pleas from Pope Francis and members of Congress.

Johnson, who was tried and convicted of a 1994 triple murder, was intellectually disabled and had had part of his brain removed.

Since Missouri reinstated the death penalty in 1989, 91 prisoners have been executed.

Condemned prisoners in the state are put to death at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center at Bonne Terre, which opened in 2003 and has a purpose-built execution chamber.

The Independent and the nonprofit Responsible Business Initiative for Justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for an end to the death penalty in the US. The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 well-known signatories to their Business Leaders Declaration Against the Death Penalty - with The Independent as the latest on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and are making a pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.

Associated Press contributed to this report

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