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Investigative Reporter Shares His Favorite Work

St. Louis Public Radio reporter Chris McDaniel talks to 'St. Louis on the Air' host Don Marsh about investigative journalism on Feb. 10, 2015, at St. Louis Public Radio in St. Louis.
Alex Heuer
St. Louis Public Radio

A few months ago, an investigative report by St. Louis Public Radio reporter Chris McDaniel revealed the state of Missouri was covertly using the drug midazolam before execution warrants were valid, and before witnesses were present to provide oversight. That story led to reforms in the state’s mostly secret execution policies.

Tuesday was McDaniel’s last day at St. Louis Public Radio; he is leaving to pursue other reporting opportunities. Before leaving, he told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh that his story on midazolam use in executions is one that stands out.

“Missouri was using a drug that top government officials swore they wouldn’t use in executions,” McDaniel said. “What I’m proud of with that is that after we published there were some reforms. The state said that they would no longer be giving (midazolam) covertly and without the consent of the inmate. And it was something where that information that we revealed was cited by four U.S. Supreme Court justices when there was a stay request before them.”

Missouri is scheduled to execute Walter Storey at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. He has appealed his case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Storey is being executed for the 1990 murder of a neighbor in St. Charles.  

Whether the high court issues a stay in Wednesday’s execution or not, it will hear a lethal injection case this year.

“It’s a case brought out of Oklahoma where they had a pretty bad botched execution,” McDaniel said. “The concerns with Oklahoma’s methods are one of the drugs that they’re using, namely midazolam.”

Where Missouri and Oklahoma are getting the drugs used in executions also has been questioned. The states have kept that information secret. McDaniel also is party to a lawsuit filed against Missouri under the state’s open records act, seeking the name of the pharmacy.

McDaniel said he plans to continue covering the death penalty, and is interested in investigating other criminal justice issues.

“There have been a lot of stories that I’ve been wanting to work on in the past year and just have not had the time to do so,” he said. “I think that there’s a certain type of reporting that isn’t being done as much as I would like. That’s the stuff I would like to be focusing on.”

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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