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Re-examining the death penalty in Missouri

Bill Deeken
Bill Deeken

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

Jefferson City, MO – Opponents of the death penalty in Missouri were lobbying lawmakers on Tuesday to place a moratorium on executions in the state.

Over a dozen groups are calling for the moratorium, saying there's a growing number of death row inmates being exonerated by DNA evidence. Vera Thomas of St. Louis has a son on Death Row.

"Police brutality and forced confessions...no prior record of any convictions...no DNA evidence was presented at my (son's) trial," said Thomas.

As the issue moves forward death penalty opponents have an unlikely ally. Republican Representative Bill Deeken of Jefferson City supports capital punishment, but he's also sponsoring a bill to place a moratorium on executions until the year 2011, citing concerns that there may be innocent people on Death Row.

"We've got to do something about the people, that are being put to death, that are not guilty...and we're finding this out more and more all the time."

Deekin says he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he were on a jury that sentenced someone to death, and then learned later that that person was innocent. He doesn't think the bill will pass, but says he'll consider it a victory if it can get a hearing from a House committee.

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