Missouri Governor Mike Parson has said he will not grant clemency to death row inmate Carman Deck after the US Supreme Court refused to intervene to stop the man’s execution.
Deck, 56, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Bonne Terre State Prison for the double murder of an elderly couple during a robbery at their rural home in July 1996.
After the Supreme Court refused to hear the case, Parson said in a statement Monday that the execution would go ahead.
“Mr. Deck received due process, and three separate juries of his peers recommended death sentences for the brutal murders he committed,” Parson said in a statement.
“The State of Missouri will carry out Mr. Deck’s sentence in accordance with the order of the court and will do justice.”
Deck, of St Louis, confessed to killing James and Zelma Long while robbing their home in the eastern Missouri town of De Soto in July 1996.
After initially being sentenced to death in 1998, Deck’s death sentence has been overturned three times for procedural errors.
The Missouri Supreme Court vacated the initial death sentence after determining that Deck’s attorney had made serious errors at trial.
The United States Supreme Court overturned a second death sentence in 2005, saying that Deck had been unfairly prejudiced after he was chained in front of the jury that sentenced him.
After Deck was sentenced to death for a third time in 2008, a judge vacated the sentence because trial witnesses had not appeared or could not be found during the sentencing phase.
Then, in October 2020, a three-judge panel of the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals restored the death penalty, ruling that Deck should have raised his concern first in state court, not federal.
Deck’s attorney, Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, said KSDK the death sentences were “unconstitutional” due to the number of times they had been overturned on appeal.
“No one is suggesting that Carman Deck should get out of prison and come home tomorrow,” Carlyle told the Missouri news site.
Deck’s appeal has also been supported by clemency advocates from Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty.
CEO Elyse Max said KSDK: “The state simply gets mulligan after mulligan to continue pursuing death even though they are violating the constitutional rights of the defendants.”
A clemency petition on Deck’s behalf cited abuse he suffered as a child, including sexual abuse and beatings. He also said that he and his siblings were often left alone without food.
Deck’s only hope of avoiding the injection is a last-minute stay of execution.
The victims’ daughter, Angela Rosener, said KSDK Deck’s death would bring him “peace of mind”.
“He doesn’t need to be forgiven or anything else. He killed two people in cold blood.”
Last year, Parson also denied clemency to death row inmate Ernest Johnson, despite pleas from Pope Francis and members of Congress.
Johnson, who was tried and convicted of a triple murder in 1994, had an intellectual disability and had part of his brain removed.
The number of executions in the US has dropped significantly since peaking at 98 in 1998. The drop coincided with a decline in public support for capital punishment which fell from a high of 80 percent in 1994 to 54 percent. percent in 2021, according to Gallup polling.
Earlier Monday, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee halted executions for the rest of the year to allow for a review of the state’s lethal injection procedures. That decision came after an oversight in evidence forced the state to cancel Oscar Smith’s execution an hour before he died on April 21.
The Independent and the non-profit organization Responsible entrepreneurship for justice (RBIJ) have launched a joint campaign calling for a end to the death penalty in the US The RBIJ has attracted more than 150 known signatories to its Statement of Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty, with The Independent coming last on the list. We join high-profile executives like Ariana Huffington, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg and Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson as part of this initiative and pledge to highlight the injustices of the death penalty in our coverage.
Associated Press contributed to this report