For some individuals, criminal defense proceedings don't end simply because the trial is over. Individuals who are convicted still face sentencing, and good defense strategies may be able to reduce penalties. For those accused and convicted of violent crimes such as murder, defense strategies after conviction could mean the difference between a long prison sentence and execution in states such as Missouri.
One man who was convicted of murder is currently fighting for clemency, and a judge has stayed his execution while information is reviewed. The state is reportedly pushing back, requesting the judge to remove the stay.
The reason the judge agreed to stay the execution is because the man's attorney filed a suit against a Department of Corrections director as well as wardens for two prisons. The suit alleged that the prisons interfered with the man's clemency process.
According to reports, an employee in one of the prisons told the man's attorney that he was a model prisoner and deserved clemency because he was a changed man. The suit says that the man backed off his statement after being threatened with an investigation by prison management because he was too close to the prisoner.
Documents show that in 1996, the man killed two roommates of his ex-girlfriend and shot his ex-girlfriend. The man was convicted by a jury in 1998; documents show the jury recommended that he receive two death sentences.
The attorney general's office has filed a motion for the stay to be dismissed. The AG argued that the prison employee's statements are on file, meaning the governor could be made aware of the information when making any decisions regarding clemency.
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Missouri wants judge to allow execution of killer from University City to proceed" Jeremy Kohler, Jun. 12, 2014