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Letter: Walter Barton’s execution was ‘cruel and unusual’

Letter: Walter Barton’s execution was ‘cruel and unusual’

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Regarding Michael A. Wolff’s guest column “Should Missouri kill Walter Barton? (May 18): In the case of Walter Barton, there were two mistrials, a trial and conviction, a reversal and remand by the Missouri Supreme Court. The second trial ended in conviction and was upheld by the Supreme Court but later thrown out by a lower court. At the fifth trial, Barton was found guilty, and the death penalty was recommended. During final appeal, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 to uphold his death sentence.

On Feb. 19, the state of Missouri set the execution for May 19. A petition, which was signed by more than 5,800 people, asked Gov. Mike Parson to grant clemency. The clemency appeal was based on an innocence claim and lack of competence.

Michael A. Wolff, retired Missouri Supreme Court justice who voted against the conviction and death sentence, wrote: “Even if the evidence were strong enough to support a conviction, it may not have been enough to warrant the death penalty.”

In the end it was up to Parson. He was asked to stay the execution and appoint a board of inquiry to investigate. He chose to take no action, seeing no reason to intervene. Barton was executed last week by a lethal drug.

I am horrified, angered and saddened to live in a state and a country that condones and promotes the killing of a human being who may not have been guilty. This is indeed cruel and unusual punishment.

Lucy Freeman • St. Louis

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