"Missouri execution is 8th in the state this year," is the AP report filed by Jim Salter.
A Missouri inmate convicted in a 1998 robbery and double murder was put to death Wednesday, the eighth execution in the state this year and the 10th since November.
Earl Ringo Jr. and an accomplice killed delivery driver Dennis Poyser and manager trainee JoAnna Baysinger at a Ruby Tuesday in Columbia in the early hours of July 4, 1998. Poyser and Baysinger were shot to death at point-blank range.
Ringo's last words were a quote from the Quran that expresses belief and wishes for after death. He wiggled his feet as the process began, breathed deeply a few times, then closed his eyes, all in a matter of seconds. The Department of Corrections said Ringo was executed by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 12:31 a.m.
Courts and Gov. Jay Nixon had refused to halt the execution over concerns raised by Ringo's attorneys, who, among other things, questioned Missouri's use of a pre-execution sedative, midazolam. Attorneys argued that the drug could dull Ringo's senses and leave him unable to express any pain or suffering during the process.
Ringo declined to take any sedative, including midazolam, the Corrections Department said.
The Guardian posts, "Missouri executes Earl Ringo Jr after rejecting concerns over drugs used," by Ed Pilkington.
A clemency petition to Nixon had also cited concerns about the fact that Ringo was convicted and sentenced to death by an all-white jury.
When the case came to trial, 163 people formed the pool from which the final jury would be drawn. Only four were black.
Of those four, only one was asked questions to ascertain whether she was eligible to serve on the jury, and even she was struck out by the judge. That left a panel of 12 white jurors, together with a white prosecutor and a white judge, sitting in judgment over a black defendant.
The racial disparity in Ringo’s prosecution chimes with a general statistical imbalance in Missouri’s criminal justice system. Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in the state than people who are white.
St Louis University law school has been conducting research specifically on Missouri’s practice of the death penalty in the modern era with the assistance of an expert in this area, Professor Ray Paternoster. The preliminary results of the study have found that murder convictions are three times more likely to end with a death sentence in Missouri in cases, like Ringo’s, where the defendant is black and the victim white.
Such cases make up between 5 and 6% of all murders in Missouri since 1977, yet constitute about 25% of death sentences since that date. Three of the past nine executions that have taken place in Missouri over the past year have involved the same black defendant-white victim disparity.
There have been 28 executions in American death penalty states this year; a total of 1,387 post-Furman executions since 1977. Texas is scheduled to execute this evening.