Death sentence lifted by the Missouri Supreme Court
Antonio Richardson, who was just 16 years old, (date of birth: 3 September 1974), borderline retarded and neurologically impaired at the time of his offence, has been convicted of participating in the rape and deaths of two young women, Julia and Robin Kerry. He was sentenced to death on July 2, 1993 in the state of Missouri. Originally, Antonio was going to accept a sentence of life in prison in exchange for a plea of guilty, but was pressured to reject it on the eve of trial by a local community activist. In the sentencing phase of his trial, critical evidence regarding his mental functioning and brain damage was never presented to the jury nor fully considered by the sentencing judge. Antonio Richardson would have been one of the youngest offenders executed in the United States since the reinstitution of the death penalty in 1976. He was scheduled for execution in Missouri on March 7, 2001. However, the U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution of Richardson. The Court granted a reprieve to allow the Justices time to consider the constitutionality of Richardson's conviction and sentencing with regard to whether putting a mentally retarded person to death violates the 8th Amendment, dealing with cruel and unusual punishment. The case of Ernest McCarver of is being reviewed by the US Supreme Court to determine the issue of the constitutionality of the execution of persons with mental retardation.
Supreme Court Lifts 3 More Death Sentences
The state Supreme Court on Tuesday spared the lives of 3 more convicted
murderers, including those of Antonio Richardson and Andre D. Morrow.
Richardson had been sentenced to death for the murders in 1991 of Julie
and Robin Kerry, who were thrown from the Chain of Rocks Bridge after
being raped. Morrow faced a death sentence for murdering John Koprowski
during a carjacking at the YMCA in Brentwood in 1994.
Supreme Court orders, signed by Chief Justice Ronnie White, said that
because Richardson and Morrow had been sentenced to death by judges rather
than juries, their sentences would be reduced to life imprisonment without
parole. The decisions were not unexpected.
The state high court has been overturning death sentences since June of
this year citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a death
sentence handed down in an Arizona court after a jury failed to reach a
verdict in the penalty phase of the trial there. The court said it's the
responsibility of a jury -- not a judge -- to decide capital punishment
sentences in murder cases.
The state Supreme Court has overturned seven other capital punishment
decisions and ordered new sentencing hearings in other death penalty
cases. In addition to Richardson and Morrow, the court on Tuesday also
re-sentenced to life imprisonment Keith A. Smith. He had had been
sentenced to life in prison in 1994 for the murder of a Kansas City
minister and to death by a judge for the murder of the minister's
(source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch) - October 28, 2003