(AP) – Attorneys for Missouri inmate Leon Taylor asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt his execution on Tuesday, citing several concerns that led to the death sentence for the convicted killer.
Taylor, 56, is scheduled to die early Wednesday for killing gas station attendant Robert Newton in suburban Kansas City in 1994, in front of Newton’s 8-year-old stepdaughter. Taylor would be the ninth man put to death in Missouri this year and the 11th since November 2013.
The appeal notes that Taylor’s original jury deadlocked and a judge sentenced him to death. When that was thrown out, an all-white jury gave Taylor, who is black, the death sentence.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that only a jury could impose a death sentence. Taylor’s lawyers contend that a Missouri Supreme Court ruling after the U.S. Supreme Court decision led the state to commute at least 10 other death sentences for inmates sentenced by a judge to life in prison – everyone except Taylor.
Attorney Elizabeth Carlyle said Taylor essentially has been penalized for successfully appealing his first conviction.
“It is difficult to imagine a more arbitrary denial of the benefit of a state court decision,” Carlyle wrote in the appeal to the Supreme Court