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Amrine Brings Moratorium Message to St. Louis

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – Opponents of capital punishment in Missouri say the recent release of death row inmate Joe Amrine highlights the need for a moratorium on the death penalty.

Amrine left prison three weeks ago, after the state supreme court overturned his death sentence for the murder of a fellow prison inmate.

At a news conference in St. Louis Sunday, Amrine said race and economic status often factor into whether a defendant is sentenced to die.

"If you're going to sentence a guy to death, you should guarantee that he's getting the death sentence based on his crime, his past, and his character," Amrine said. "They can't guarantee that, so there's no room for it."

Amrine is the third person in Missouri to have a death sentence cleared. He now lives with his brother in Kansas City.

Margaret Phillips, of the Eastern Missouri Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, says Missouri should follow Illinois' example and put a moratorium on executions.

Every time one of these cases happens, we try to point out how a moratorium would help the system to study these problems," she said. "How did Joe Amrine come close to being executed when he is innocent?"

Activists say Amrine is the 111th person in the nation exonerated from death row.