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Death Penalty: Chris Koster Says Gas Chamber May Be Only Option Due To Legal Battles

Categories: Crime, News

gas-chamber-file.jpg
via Wikimedia Commons
Gas chamber file photo.
Is Missouri going to bring back the gas chamber?

The outdated execution method may be the only available option, says Attorney General Chris Koster, citing an ongoing court battle that has prompted the Missouri Supreme Court to delay setting execution dates. As we reported on Monday, Koster is calling on the court to set dates for two men on death row, arguing that the state's supply of propofol, the execution drug, will soon expire.

And if the drugs do expire before the men are executed, the next and only option may be the gas chamber, which hasn't been used since the 1960s in Missouri.

See also:
- Missouri Attorney General Calls for Execution of Man Linked to Larry Flynt Shooting
- Chris Koster Wants Execution Dates For Two Men On Death Row
- Death Penalty Repeal in Missouri: Gina Walsh Says Capital Punishment is Not Pro-Life

In an interview published today in the Kansas City Star, Koster says, "It may be the last option we have to enforce Missouri law."

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office today points Daily RFT to this quote from the Monday press release: "Unless the Court changes its current course, the legislature will soon be compelled to fund statutorily authorized alternative methods of execution to carry out lawful judgments."

Allen-Nicklasson.jpg
Allen Nicklasson, one of the men on death row.


The only other method that is currently allowed in statute is the gas chamber, she tells us.

The relevant part of the statute says:

Death penalty--manner of execution--execution team to be selected, members, confidentiality.
546.720. 1. The manner of inflicting the punishment of death shall be by the administration of lethal gas or by means of the administration of lethal injection. And for such purpose the director of the department of corrections is hereby authorized and directed to provide a suitable and efficient room or place, enclosed from public view, within the walls of a correctional facility of the department of corrections, and the necessary appliances for carrying into execution the death penalty by means of the administration of lethal gas or by means of the administration of lethal injection.

The men who could in theory face the death penalty with this method are Joseph Franklin, who was convicted in 1997 of killing Gerald Gordon in St. Louis, and Allen Nicklasson, who was found guilty in 1996 for killing Richard Drummond, a Good Samaritan who helped him out on the highway.

ag-chris-koster-fb.jpg
via Facebook
Chris Koster.

The Star notes that the last gas-chamber execution in the state happened in 1965, and that after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1972 halted executions across the country, Missouri rewrote the law, turning to lethal injection as the primary method.

The lethal-gas option, however, is still on the books.

A lawsuit relating to the use of lethal drugs, filed on behalf of 21 Missouri death-row inmates, is pending in federal court, the paper notes.

Koster also told the paper that litigation like this will likely always be ongoing.

"We are simply left with an open-ended future of a law not being enforced," he said.

Here's the attorney general's full news release from Monday.

Attorney General Koster renews request for Missouri Supreme Court to set execution dates for two men on death row

--Koster says delay in setting dates threatens state's ability to administer capital punishment--

Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster again today called on the Missouri Supreme Court to set execution dates for Joseph Franklin and Allen Nicklasson, saying further delays threaten the state's ability to carry out capital punishment.

Last August, the Supreme Court issued an order saying that Koster's May 2012 request to set execution dates was premature until questions on the use of propofol in executions are settled. Koster said, however, that waiting until federal litigation is complete may prevent the State from administering capital punishment at all, noting that the Missouri Department of Corrections' supply of propofol is limited, and much of its remaining supply will expire by next spring.

"For nearly a decade, the mere pendency of federal litigation has been used as an artificial hurdle, unauthorized by law or federal court order, to prevent the State from carrying out the death penalty," Koster said. "The Court's current position has allowed successive, limited supplies of propofol to reach their expiration dates. Unless the Court changes its current course, the legislature will soon be compelled to fund statutorily-authorized alternative methods of execution to carry out lawful judgments."

The State first asked the Court to set an execution date for Joseph Franklin in June 2009, and for Allen Nicklasson in January 2010.

Franklin was convicted in 1997 for shooting and killing Gerald Gordon, who was standing in the parking lot of a St. Louis area synagogue after a bar mitzvah. Franklin also was convicted of shooting two other men who were in the synagogue parking lot. While Franklin will be executed for his crimes in Missouri, he also was convicted for the murder of two African-Americans in Utah, the murder of an interracial couple in Wisconsin, and the bombing of a synagogue in Tennessee. Franklin also has claimed responsibility for the shooting of Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine.

Nicklasson was found guilty in 1996 of first degree murder for the death of "Good Samaritan" Richard Drummond. Nicklasson was the trigger-man in the 1994 killing of Mr. Drummond, who had offered a ride to Nicklasson, Dennis Skillicorn and Tim DeGraffenreid after their car broke down on Interstate 70. The State executed Dennis Skillicorn in May 2009 for his role in the crime.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Sam Levin on Twitter at @SamTLevin.


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43 comments
SBak
SBak

No need to think about the innocent on Death Row, because anyone on Death Row has a family and loved ones who are innocent and not connected with the crime. Every execution is a murder, same premeditated intention, same effects, a dead body, and grieving family and loved ones. 

Face facts. The death penalty isn't punishment, it's not a deterrent, it's not justice, it's vengeance, pure and simple. If you think it's acceptable to kill another human being then you're not right in the head and can be described as a thug.

Chris Jaurigui
Chris Jaurigui

I say bring on the white castles and Budweiser farts! It may not kill them but I'm sure they ll think twice about doing it again.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

they should sell sponsorships and televise these executions.

Shannon Kell
Shannon Kell

Good!Kill one a week till they are all gone.Less people would what they did.

Sharon Walker
Sharon Walker

Whats wrong with bullets or rope? They are cheap.

johnhartfield
johnhartfield

Long past time US should drop this barbaric practice.

arkansastruthseeker
arkansastruthseeker

ONLY OPTION? I guess abolishing the death penalty is not an option? Have you ever even thought of the innocents sitting on death row ? Forget the money you think you will gain by killing some one, It cost more to kill than it does having them serve a life sentence. Bottom line, you just don't kill people to show killing is wrong and if you took the money out of the equation you would stand up and abolish the death penalty all together, when you have to go to options such as this is a clear sign it must be abolished.


Patrick Kryzsko
Patrick Kryzsko

Unless I'm missing something, has anyone out there raised their pro-life flag during this conversation?

Ryan Mackley
Ryan Mackley

I'm so glad there are other people that think like me on this.

Patrick Kryzsko
Patrick Kryzsko

I like the way #Missouri worded this intro. If you had the option to choose your execution method, which would it be? gas chamber or death penalty? I prefer adopting a method similar to the graphic shock and awe I saw on the front page of a newspaper, in color, while stationed overseas in Turkey, 1985. Guy rapes and kills a young girl, justice served was tying each arm to apposing oxen as they move away in opposite directions. They let him lay there for awhile before shooting him. If we're going to do it, we'd better damn well know the person is guilty and then have absolutely no pity on that individual. Too harsh? Do you think a jury faced with that type of execution would possibly consider their decision relative to the gravity of the decision they're making. Oh and that decision needs to be implemented soon after imposition of sentence. These freaks of society had absolutely no concern for the victims and their victim's families or their own for that matter. Why are we so concerned about their health and well being?

Anthony A.
Anthony A.

First of all, your asinine comment makes the assumption that all people on death row are necessarily guilty of their crimes which is patently false. Secondly, even if they were, a civilized society is not marked by its willingness to imitate the behaviors of psychopaths.

Anthony A.
Anthony A.

Not only that, but death row inmates are typically kept in separate quarters thereby driving up the cost of building/maintaining special facilities to house them as well as the inefficiency of paying guards to watch far fewer people.

Lossy Dreamsequence
Lossy Dreamsequence

I think asking if I want murders to live at my house is immature and doesn't apply to my point. The legal process alone is wasteful. It is very expensive to carry out a capital case. The amount spent is in the billions which could fund the incarceration of thousands of crimnals. Though, I'm sure most people don't realize that these cases are so expensive to carry out because the convicted can appeal anytime they want as it's their legal right. So, essentially, millions to billions of dollars have been funneled to allowing criminals to play the legal game till they get bored of being rejected. It's called an automatic appeal.

Maria Sparks
Maria Sparks

No and No!! I love how 'pro-life' people are almost always in favor of the death penalty. Makes no sense to me. Sad.....

Cristina Flagg
Cristina Flagg

I believe we should get rid of the death penalty.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

fire that baby up! heck, sell advertising space on it.

Adam Reed
Adam Reed

firing squad at dawn, please. blindfold and a cigarette.

Catherine Claire
Catherine Claire

I'm just commenting, b/c I want to follow this thread & read everyone else's opinions.

Randi Cory
Randi Cory

I have mixed feelings on this. Yes I know they're asshole. But I'd rather them use injection. Hell I'm even for hanging or firing squad.

Lossy Dreamsequence
Lossy Dreamsequence

America should stop being so backwards and simply use all the funds that go into killing people in and outside of prisions for something useful. It's a waste of resources and hasn't proven to decrease crime.

Corey Kallmbah
Corey Kallmbah

Hey Scott I guess the crimes they committed to get put on death row werent inhumane .

Jason Bristow
Jason Bristow

I think we should bring back public hangings

Jon Cranmer
Jon Cranmer

Bring back ol'sparky for all I care. Gotta be some way to get the job done.

KITTY
KITTY

This is good news and I hope the gas chamber becomes the choice of Missouri's method to execute people. People whine that the needle is cruel and unusual punishment. Well, I say gas them or fry them in the electric chair. We don't need to coddle these assholes. Let them suffer a few moments!

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@arkansastruthseeker , what does money have to do with anything? If saving money was the only issue, we would not arrest, hold trials, or build prisons to hold these men. Just have a nun slap their knuckles with a ruler. I'm willing to spend public money to ensure 100% that these convicted murderers never have a chance to murder again.


Life without parole is cruel punishment, and so is solitary confinement as that is the only means to make sure convicted murders do not murder other prisoners.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Maria Sparks , and I am amazed that people so willing to kill innocent babies are so opposed to killing convicted murders. Makes no sense to me. Quite sad indeed.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@Lossy Dreamsequence , the death penalty, with properly executed, has been 100% effective in preventing repeat offenders. PROVEN to reduce crime. Life without parole? Not 100% effective.

arkansastruthseeker
arkansastruthseeker

@JamesMadison @arkansastruthseekerbut 140 innocent people were also released from death row,Once a life has been taken it's over. At least with LWOP their is still a chance and even you have to admit more and more mistakes have come to light about wrongful convictions and yes executions, Would you truly want to be responsible for killing an innocent man/woman?

I agree  with you solitary confinement is wrong, but you go under the assumption the person being executed is guilty and you see no further than tha,maybe with 140 released off death row should be a telling story that yes our legal system is in bad shape.

Their is plenty of accountability for the criminal but none what so ever for the people that rule the criminal courts. 

You should find that frightening as an individual. Mistakes cannot be undone,the system needs some accountability to make certain those convictions are real to start with.

JamesMadison
JamesMadison topcommenter

@arkansastruthseeker, you are making the mistake that "not guilty" is the same as being "innocent." The appeals process is long. Even after all appeals are heard, new evidence can be submitted for further appeals. The process continues until the execution. In the worse of these cases, I would hold prosecutors accountable for withholding evidence. 

Is it wrong to execute a truly innocent person? Absolutely. Few are truly innocent. Most are simply not guilty, yet a defense lawyer was unable to convince twelve peers of this, along with several judges. Remember the defense lawyer does not need to prove innocence, simply that the case is somehow flawed against the defendant. 

I, as an innocent party, prefer death over life without a chance of parole. Once my appeals were exhausted, I am ready. My Savor was sentenced to the death penalty yet Lives so that I might live as well. I fear not death, for I know death comes to all who live. Death is not the end, but the beginning. I do not know if share these thoughts, but it is how I view this world.

If you are waiting for a perfect justice system, you will never find it upon this Earth. I maintain life without parole is far worse than death for anyone who cherishes freedom and liberty.

Your 140 releases were not all innocents - simply insufficient evidence to find guilt. DNA collect years ago may not match, but that does not mean the person was not there. It simply means their DNA was not collected at the crime when DNA was not commonly collected.

Tell me how many executed criminals have become repeat offenders? 

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