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House OKs keeping executioners' names secret

By Marhsall Griffin, KWMU / AP

Jefferson City, Mo. – The names of those who carry out executions would be kept confidential, under legislation that got preliminary approval Tuesday in the Missouri House.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Representative Dani Moore of Fulton, says the bill would protect the safety of guards, doctors, and others who take part in executing a Death Row inmate.

"There are, there are members, yes - it came out in committee - we had testimony that members had been threatened," Moore said Tuesday.

The bill is opposed by the Missouri Catholic Conference. Spokesperson Rita Linnhart says keeping execution team members' identities secret would prevent oversight and accountability over capital punishment.

"We have had 66 executions in the state of Missouri, and this issue has only been brought forth here in the last few months," Linnhart noted. "And so we think that if safety really would have been an issue with the execution team members, this would have come up long before now."

Linnhart also says shielding the names of execution team members would take away oversight and accountability from capital punishment.

The bill could receive final approval in the House by Thursday.

State executions have been on hold since last year, as a court fight continues over an inmate's claim that the lethal injection process is unconstitutionally cruel.

Michael Taylor was sentenced to death for the 1989 kidnapping, rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl who was waiting for a school bus.