Gov. Mike Parson of Missouri said on Monday that he would not intervene to stop the execution of Michael Tisius, a 42-year-old who murdered two jail guards in 2000.
In a clemency petition sent to Mr. Parson last month, several jurors who had voted to sentence Mr. Tisius to death said they now believe life imprisonment was appropriate. Mr. Tisius’s lawyers had also argued that another juror from the sentencing trial was unable to read, a requirement under Missouri law for jury service.
“Missouri’s judicial system provided Mr. Tisius with due process and fair proceedings for his brutal murders of two Randolph County jail guards,” Mr. Parson said in a statement, adding, “The State of Missouri will carry out Mr. Tisius’s sentences according to the court’s order and deliver justice.”
Mr. Parson, a Republican, said that Mr. Tisius’s case “received fair and careful review at each step in the judicial process.”
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Mr. Tisius, rejecting his lawyers’ argument that his age at the time of the crime, 19, should spare him from the death penalty. Mr. Tisius’s legal appeals have been exhausted.
That left the possibility that Mr. Parson would step in and halt the execution. A former sheriff, Mr. Parson was seen as unlikely to commute the sentence. For weeks, organizations and institutions — including the American Bar Association, the Missouri State Public Defenders, the European Union and the Catholic Church — lobbied him, arguing for clemency.
Of the jury that had voted to sentence Mr. Tisius to death in 2010, six jurors, including two alternates, have said in sworn affidavits included in the clemency petition that they would be supportive or would not object if Mr. Parson stepped in to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, rather than death.
One juror, Jason Smith, said in an interview that he was remorseful for his vote, saying that he felt that he had wronged Mr. Tisius.
At least one surviving family member of one of the murder victims supported execution: Linda Arena, the older sister of Jason Acton, one of the slain jail employees, said in an interview that she felt justice would have been served once the death penalty had been carried out.
The murders occurred in June 2000, when Mr. Tisius and Tracie Bulington entered a county jail and tried to free Roy Vance, a friend who was an inmate. During the attempt, Mr. Tisius shot and killed two jail employees, then fled.
Lawyers for Mr. Tisius had appealed for clemency, saying that he suffered abuse and neglect in his childhood, had a limited mental capacity for decision-making and was heavily influenced by the older Mr. Vance, who convinced him to carry out the plot.
Background: Public support for the death penalty has waned.
Only four states have carried out executions so far in 2023 — Missouri, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas — according to the Death Penalty Information Center. That is partly a reflection of decreasing support in the last several decades for capital punishment in the United States.
It is also a sign of the practical difficulties that some states have experienced in performing executions, whether in obtaining drugs necessary for lethal injections or carrying out executions.
Why It Matters: Several jurors from the sentencing trial changed their minds about Mr. Tisius’s fate, an unusual development in a death penalty case.
Mr. Tisius’s plea for clemency raises questions that are rarely discussed during death penalty cases. Should it matter that jurors who have already sentenced a person to death now favor or accept life imprisonment, as they said in sworn affidavits sent to the governor? How should the legal system consider the trauma and remorse that jurors feel if they believe they made the wrong decision in voting for capital punishment?
There is no legal recourse for jurors in this position, so those who had reconsidered in Mr. Tisius’s case had only an emotional appeal to the governor.
The legal system “doesn’t leave room for the emotional trauma that happens to jurors later,” said Juandalynn Taylor, a visiting professor at Gonzaga University School of Law who teaches on the death penalty. She said that jurors were asking themselves: “I have voted to wipe someone off the earth — how do I deal with that?”
What’s Next: Appeals for clemency exhausted, the execution is expected to proceed on Tuesday.
Several days ago, Mr. Tisius was transferred to a prison in Bonne Terre, Mo., where other state executions have taken place. He is scheduled to die by lethal injection on Tuesday.
Demonstrators, including from the group Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty, intend to hold a vigil outside the prison.
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