Chris McDaniel

Beyond November reporter

Chris McDaniel reports for Beyond November, a collaborative reporting project of St. Louis Public Radio, Nine Network of Public Media and the St. Louis Beacon. #BeyondNov

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(Updated 11:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 6 with NAACP's request for an investigation.)

A grand juror is suing St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch in an effort to speak out on what happened in the Darren Wilson case. Under typical circumstances, grand jurors are prohibited by law from discussing cases they were involved in.

Early Wednesday morning, Missouri set a record for its number of executions in a year.

Paul Goodwin was the 10th man executed, more than any other year since the death penalty was reinstated in the state.

Goodwin was put to death for sexually assaulting Joan Crotts, a 63-year-old widow, and then killing her with a hammer in 1998 in St. Louis County.

In denying clemency, Gov. Jay Nixon referred to the crime as "brutal" and "senseless."

During a tense Thursday night, demonstrators returned to the area outside the Ferguson police department  and held a quick march or two. Even though the verbal exchanges were intense, control was maintained – until the police chief tried to improve the situation. 

(Updated at 10:01 a.m., Sat., Sept. 6 with the attorney general's response)

Lawyers representing inmate Earl Ringo are asking a federal judge to halt his upcoming execution, citing new information uncovered in a St. Louis Public Radio investigation.

(Updated at 10:51 am, Thurs., Sept. 4 with further response from the Department of Corrections)

Hundreds of demonstrators marched up and down West Florissant Avenue on a night in which the most dangerous factor was the heat index. It was the second night in a row of mostly peaceful protest.

As demonstrators made laps up and down the road (remaining in motion in accordance with law enforcement's rule), most of the policing was self-policing.

A handful of demonstrators would yell out to "Keep moving!" or "Get out the streets" when a crowd would gather. And those same demonstrators would admonish journalists for back-ups as well.

At 12:01 Wednesday morning, Missouri executed inmate Jeffrey Ferguson, marking the state's fifth execution in as many months.

Ferguson was put to death for the brutal murder and rape of a 17-year-old St. Charles County girl. The crime occurred in 1989, and the victim’s father, Jim Hall, said the punishment was long overdue.

Wednesday's execution of Michael Taylor marked the state's fourth in as many months - a dramatic uptick from recent years.

The state put Taylor to death for abducting, raping and killing a 15-year-old girl in 1989. Gov. Jay Nixon called the crime "wanton" and "heinous" in a statement denying clemency and said the death penalty was the appropriate punishment.

Although the state's previous drug supplier says it will not supply for the next execution, Missouri says it's found another willing pharmacy.

On Monday, the Apothecary Shoppe in Oklahoma reached a settlement with an inmate who had sued the pharmacy. Although the terms were confidential, the pharmacy agreed to not sell to Missouri for its upcoming execution.

In a court filing Wednesday evening, the state said inmate Michael Taylor was trying to cut off the supply of the state's execution drug.

Missouri's recent executions have sparked controversy lately -- not just for the secrecy and the source of the execution drug but also for the state's speed in carrying them out.

The Department of Corrections has carried out three executions in as many months. In all those cases, the inmate still had appeals pending at the time the state executed him.

After a lawsuit filed by a death-row inmate, the Apothecary Shoppe in Oklahoma has agreed to not sell to Missouri for its upcoming execution.

Last week, a federal judge ordered the pharmacy to hold off on selling the drug to Missouri until further review. Before that could take place, however, the pharmacy and the inmate came to an agreement.

Update: Governor says the state is prepared to proceed regardless.

Update: Pharmacy hopes documents will be secret

A federal judge has ordered an Oklahoma-based pharmacy not to sell the Missouri Department of Corrections its execution drug, at least until a hearing scheduled for next week.

Despite the controversy over how Missouri has carried out its past three executions, a state House hearing on Monday revealed little that hasn't already been reported:

Missouri inmate Herbert Smulls was put to death late Wednesday night after the U.S. Supreme Court removed two stays.

Smulls was executed for the 1991 shooting death of Stephen Honickman, a Chesterfield jeweler.

Stephen Honickman’s wife, Florence Honickman, was also shot by Smulls. Following the execution, she said the appeals process went on far too long.

“It was a long day. And it could have been done a lot easier — and it was easier on Mr. Smulls. Much more so than it was on my husband and myself,” Honickman said.

Updated at 1:41 a.m., Thurs., Jan. 30

Missouri inmate Herbert Smulls was put to death late Wednesday night after the U.S. Supreme Court removed two stays. He was pronounced dead at 10:20 p.m.

It was the state's third execution in as many months. The pace of one a month is a sharp uptick from recent years past, when the state has had problems getting a hold of execution drugs.

Lawyers representing death row inmates have filed a complaint with the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, citing St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon’s investigation from earlier this week.

In an investigation spanning the past few months, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon has discovered the state of Missouri may be ignoring its own laws in carrying out the death penalty by buying execution drugs from a pharmacy not licensed to do business in Missouri.

Update 7:52 a.m 11/20/13:

Missouri carried out the execution of Joseph Paul Franklin a little after 6 a.m. He was put to death after courts overturned Tuesday's stays of execution.

Yesterday, two federal judges issued stays of execution.

The judges took issue with how the state was getting its lethal injection drug from a secret source not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and questioned whether the inmate was mentally competent to be executed.

Wikimedia Commons - CC

A month ago, St. Louis Public Radio reported on the questionable manner in which the state of Missouri got ahold of its potential execution drug. Now Missouri has a new plan to go ahead with two upcoming executions, but the process is anything but open.

St. Louis Public Radio/NPR

In partnership with NPR, St. Louis Public Radio has created a new website to keep track of all the gifts Missouri state lawmakers have been receiving from companies and organizations that have lobbyists at the capitol in Jefferson City. And, the information is searchable and downloadable. 

Veronique LaCapra / St. Louis Public Radio

Two weeks ago, Gov. Jay Nixon instructed the Missouri Department of Corrections to come up with a new procedure for carrying out lethal injections.

On Tuesday, the department announced that it had chosen a new execution drug: pentobarbitol. But the state also made a change that will end up making it harder, if not impossible, to know where the drugs come from.

On Tuesday, the Missouri Department of Corrections announced that it had selected a new drug for upcoming executions: pentobarbital.

The change comes following criticism of the questionable methods by which Missouri obtained the drug it had previously planned to use, as well as concern that its use could harm hospitals throughout the U.S. The state had planned to use a common anesthetic named propofol, which has never been used to carry out an execution.

Veronique Lacapra / KWMU

On Friday, Gov. Jay Nixon postponed the execution of an inmate that was set for later this month. That execution was going to be carried out using propofol, a common anesthetic that has never been used in a lethal injection before. So why the change in plans?

Updated 5:12 p.m. with comment from Walgreens.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is accusing Walgreens of engaging in false and deceptive pricing schemes, that he said amounts to stealing. In St. Louis Tuesday, Koster announced a lawsuit against the company.

Koster had investigators go to stores across the state, and said they found display tags were often inaccurate, and that membership rewards didn’t always deliver on the price reduction.

The income tax bill that would eventually reduce income tax rates by about a half of a percent is likely to not be brought up in veto session next month, according to Missouri House Speaker Tim Jones a Republican from Eureka.

Jones said he currently doesn't have the votes necessary for an override of the governor's veto.

"Overriding the veto would be monumental at this point," Jones said. "I likely would not attempt an override."

Jones added that lawmakers' stances on the bill could be in flux.

Expect to see a lot of ads leading up to September, paid for largely by one man. Libertarian Rex Sinquefield has given nearly $2.4 million to groups backing a possible cut to Missouri's income tax.

In response, Democratic Governor Jay Nixon has gone on the offensive, attacking the income tax bill and defending his veto.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has signed legislation allowing parents more time to give up newborns, requiring screening for a heart defect and dealing with mandatory reporters of child abuse.

Nixon held a bill signing ceremony Tuesday at St. Louis Children's Hospital. In front of dozens of doctors and child advocates, the Democratic governor signed a bill that he said will close a loophole for child abuse reporting.

With May's lobbying numbers in, and Missouri's legislative session completely behind us, we now have a complete picture of Missouri's lobbying system.

With the final tally, legislators took in $731,000 from lobbyists hoping to gain influence. All of this took place in just five months.

May's findings

As usual, the vast majority of May's lobbyist spending went to groups instead of individual legislators. Lobbyists spent about $70,000 on groups and committees, which don't disclose the recipients.

A few noteworthy gifts in May:

Nice restaurants in Jefferson City should be sad to see the Missouri Legislative session end. They’ve received tens of thousands of dollars worth of business from lobbyists courting Missouri’s legislators over dinners and drinks.

Who were the legislators taken out for expensive meals? Well, in many cases, we don’t really know.

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