Commentary: Serious flaws in Missouri's death penalty system

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

Dennis Skillicorn's walk to the execution chamber is fraught with complications.

While his lawyers appeal to Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon to grant clemency to the condemned man, they also contend that Nixon, the state's former attorney general, has a conflict of interest that should prevent him from denying clemency.

The convoluted moral and legal issues that have arisen in advance of the scheduled execution on Wednesday are disturbingly familiar. Missouri invests an extraordinary amount of money and legal energy to preserve its deeply flawed capital punishment option.

Skillicorn, 49, is scheduled to become the first person to be executed in Missouri since 2005. A federal judge halted executions for a time because of concerns about the lethal injection method and the tarnished professional record of the physician who had been overseeing executions.

The Missouri legislature should have used the court-imposed hiatus to conduct a thorough review of the way the state handles its capital cases.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Kansas City Star.

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