The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 14, 2012

State experiences vary with use of death penalty

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
news@joplinglobe.com

— First among states for executions is Texas, which has put to death 481 prisoners since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma ranks third with 98 executions, including two in 2011. Earlier this year, the state of Oklahoma executed Gary Roland Welch at the state penitentiary in McAlester for the 1994 slaying of Robert Dean Hardcastle in Miami, Okla.

Oklahoma’s attorney general’s office also is appealing a stay of execution issued for an inmate who was scheduled to die last week.

Garry Allen was set to die Thursday, but on Wednesday afternoon, federal Judge David Russell issued the stay, ruling that Allen’s claims that he is insane and ineligible for the death penalty should be reviewed.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office immediately filed its notice of appeal with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In the appeal, the state argues that courts have found Allen sane and that he’s capable of understanding his execution is for the 1986 murder of Gail Titsworth.

Allen has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and his attorneys argue his mental state deteriorated on death row.

Missouri

Missouri has 47 people on death row and ranks fifth in the number of executions since 1976, with 68.

The most recent prisoner to be put to death in Missouri was Martin Link, who was executed on Feb. 9, 2011, for the 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of 11-year-old Elissa Self-Braun, of St. Louis.

Chris Collings, of Wheaton, is the most recent Missourian sentenced to death row. On March 23, jurors agreed on capital punishment for his kidnapping, raping and slaying of 9-year-old Rowan Ford.

Others from Southwest Missouri on death row are Cecil Clayton, sentenced in December 1997 by a Jasper County jury for the 1996 first-degree murder of Barry County Deputy Christopher Castetter, and Mark Christeson, sentenced in September 1999 by a Vernon County jury for three counts of first-degree murder in the 1998 deaths of Susan Brouk and her two children.

Kansas

Kansas now has nine people on death row, including Gary Kleypas, who was sentenced to death for the killing of Carrie Williams in 1996 in Pittsburg.

The death penalty was first abolished in Kansas in 1907 by Gov. Edward Hoch. In 1935, the death penalty was reinstated, but no executions took place until 1944. The state had the death penalty statute in effect until a 1972 U.S. Supreme Court ruling struck it down.

After the 1976 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that reinstated the constitutionality of it, numerous attempts were made to reinstate the death penalty. Gov. John Carlin vetoed reinstatement legislation in 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1985.

The current death penalty statute was enacted in 1994 when Gov. Joan Finney allowed it to become law without her signature. In 2004, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled capital punishment unconstitutional, but it was reinstated after the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Kansas death penalty was constitutional.

In 2010, the Kansas Senate was one vote short of voting to replace the death penalty with life without the possibility of parole for the crime of aggravated murder.