JEFFERSON CITY — Invoking the death of Hailey Owens, a state senator has introduced a bill that would speed executions of inmates who kidnapped and then murdered their victims.
At the same time, a Springfield lawmaker argued today for greater legislative oversight of the execution process.
Sen. Dan Brown, R-Rolla, has filed Senate Bill 945. The act requires the Missouri Supreme Court to issue an execution warrant within 10 days after the defendant has completed the appeals process. Currently, the court must set the date of execution from 30 to 60 days from the day of judgment.
The bill also limits extensions for appeals, and the Missouri Supreme Court would need to hear arguments in a case within six months of submission of the last written argument. The high court would have another six months to issue its decision.
"This act may not bring justice for little Hailey, but hopefully will serve as a warning to those who might commit such heinous crimes that we will not stand by while they rack up decades in prison," Brown said in a statement.
The same statement said the legislation will not interfere with due process or the appeals process.
"It simply makes the process timelier requiring penalties to be served more expeditiously," the statement reads.
Craig Michael Wood has been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and child kidnapping in Owens' death. The maximum sentence could be the death penalty.
Greene County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Patterson has not said if he will pursue the death penalty.
The bill was filed on the same day that Owens' funeral will be held. A service was expected to begin at 2 p.m. today at Ridgecrest Baptist Church in Springfield.
At a House hearing today, Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, presented House Bill 1737. The bill would allow the Department of Corrections' execution procedures to be reviewed by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, a panel made up of senators and representatives.
"We owe it to the public to make these decisions in public light and not in secrecy," Burlison said.
The legislative hearing came hours after Missouri executed Michael Taylor, who, along with another man, snatched a 15-year-old Kansas City girl in 1989, raped and stabbed her to death.
Taylor's execution was Missouri's fourth in four months using the drug pentobarbital. His attorneys had argued the execution drug, pentobarbital, likely would cause Taylor inhumane pain and suffering. The state refused to name the compounding pharmacy that provided the drug, which his lawyers said made it impossible to know the drug's origins or whether the pharmacy had been accused of past wrongdoing.
Columbia attorney Dan Viets testified in favor of Burlison's bill, saying that there is no more final decision than the decision to execute someone.
"There is no legitimate excuse for this secrecy. This matter should be fully exposed to public scrutiny," Viets said.
—The Associated Press contributed reporting.