Supreme Court issues stay of execution for Missouri man

The execution was originally scheduled for Oct. 29.

A Missouri man received a stay of execution from the Supreme Court of the United States on Oct. 28. He had been scheduled to be executed at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 29, at a prison in Bonne Terre.

Mark Christeson was convicted of raping and murdering Susan Brouk and killing her two children, Adrian and Kyle, in Maries County in 1998 with his cousin, Jesse Carter. Christeson was 18 at the time and Carter was 17.

Christeson received his stay from the Supreme Court as a result of an appeal he had submitted.

He challenged that his original attorneys were inadequate and that his right to counsel had thus been violated. This attorneys failed to submit a federal court appeal by the 2005 deadline, which is unusual in a death penalty case.

The Supreme Court ruled for a stay of execution to give them time to decide whether or not to grant Christeson’s petition for a writ of certiorari.

If the court were to grant his petition, Christeson could appeal his case in federal court. Justice Sonia Sotomayor granted the stay, while Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented and would have denied the application for stay of execution.

Justin Dyer, associate professor of political science, said he thought the dissenters were notable.

“Scalia, Alito and Thomas are the most conservative members of the court, so I would be interested to find out more about why they dissented,” Dyer said. “It would also be interesting to find out why the other conservatives — (Anthony) Kennedy and (John) Roberts — sided with the court’s liberal justices.”

Christeson also submitted an appeal arguing against the state’s plan to use a made-to-order drug for execution, but this appeal was denied by the court.

Christeson would have been the ninth man to be executed this year in Missouri, marking a tie with the all-time high set in 1999. Two more executions, of Leon Taylor and Paul Goodwin, are scheduled to take place this year, according to www.missourideathrow.com.

Taylor is scheduled to be executed by the state of Missouri on Nov. 19. He was convicted of murdering a gas station attendant after robbing him in 1994.

Missouri plans to execute Goodwin, who was sentenced for sexually assaulting and murdering a former neighbor in 1998, on Dec. 10.

The state’s first execution of the year, that of Herbert Smulls, was in defiance of the courts.

Missouri officials chose to execute Smulls while his appeals case was still pending, although they had been told repeatedly not to do so. This was a direct violation of the Supreme Court’s orders and brought attention to the state.

Supreme Court cases such as Barefoot v. Estelle (1983) have legally established that pending litigation is not enough to prevent an execution.

Smulls’ execution on Jan. 29 was not the first time Missouri has executed a convict before his appeals cases ended. The two executions carried out by the state before Smulls’ were also done before the defendants’ appeals cases had been completed. The execution is currently on hold indefinitely.

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