"Federal judge grants Missouri stay of execution," is the initial Associated Press report.
A federal judge has granted a stay of execution for Missouri death row inmate John Winfield, less than a week before his scheduled execution.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued the ruling Thursday. It wasn't immediately clear if the state planned to appeal. Messages seeking comment from the Missouri Attorney General's office and the Missouri Department of Corrections were not immediately returned.
One of several court appeals on his behalf cited concerns that a corrections department employee who initially wanted to write a clemency letter on Winfield's behalf decided not to after intimidation by prison officials.
Joseph Luby, Mr. Winfield's attorney, has issued this statement:
“We are very pleased that the court has granted a stay of execution for John Winfield who was scheduled for execution on June 18, 2014. The court was right to follow controlling precedent from the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals which says that if a state creates a clemency process, ‘the state’s own officials [must] refrain from frustrating it by threatening the job of a witness.’ (Young v. Hayes). Here, the court correctly found that the state actors intimidated a prison staff member and made him fear for his job, and that such obstruction of the clemency process violated Mr. Winfield’s due process rights. The staff member who supervised Mr. Winfield’s work at the prison and spent eight hours a day with him wanted to submit a declaration describing Mr. Winfield as among the ‘elite one percent of all inmates,’ including those incarcerated for non-capital crimes, and detailing Mr. Winfield’s superlative work habits, his kindness to other prisoners, the respect with which he is regarded by staff members and prisoners alike, and his important work in mentoring and turning the lives around of younger prisoners. This 20-year corrections staff member was made to fear for his job when he wanted to tell the truth about Mr. Winfield’s remarkable rehabilitation and the positive good he will continue to do if his life is spared. We urge Governor Nixon to commute Mr. Winfield’s death sentence to a sentence of life without parole.”
Earlier coverage of John Winfield's case begins at the link.
This morning, before the stay of execution was issued, there was news coverage of yesterday's filings in the case.
"Lawyer of man on Missouri death row says bickering legal team torpedoed his defense," is by Jeremy Kohler for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Convicted killer John A. Winfield might have been spared a death sentence if his two attorneys — two of the top names in criminal defense in St. Louis — could have gotten along during the penalty phase of his case.
So says one of those attorneys, Bradford Kessler, in an affidavit filed in support of clemency for Winfield, who is scheduled to be executed June 18. Winfield’s current legal team said it planned to deliver the clemency petition to Gov. Jay Nixon.
Kessler wrote that he and lawyer Scott Rosenblum had been co-counsel for Winfield but dissolved their partnership right before the trial in 1998. “The dissolution resulted in significant tension between us, which negatively impacted Mr. Winfield’s trial,” Kessler wrote. “I believe that the penalty phase was inadequate, and that Mr. Winfield did not receive a fair opportunity to present a case for life without the possibility of parole to the jury.
NBC News posts, "Mother and Daughter Divided Over Inmate John Winfield's Fate," by Tracy Connor.
"Victim’s Daughter, Former Juror, & MO NAACP Urge Governor: Clemency For John Winfield!" is by Jose Cornejo at Fire Dog Lake.