A man who spent nearly 25 years on death row for the kidnap, rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl, has been executed in Missouri. On 22 March 1989, Roderick Nunley, 50, and his accomplice Michael Taylor, abducted 15-year-old Ann Harrison in Kansas city.
The pair are believed to have been under the influence of cocaine when they stole a car. The teenager was waiting on her driveway for a school bus when Nunley and Taylor drove past and made a spur-of-the-moment decision to abduct her.
They took her to Nunley's mother's home, where they raped her and then stabbed her repeatedly in the stomach and neck. Some of Ann's hair was found in carpet at the home where they carried out the brutal assault. Ann's body was found in the boot of the abandoned car three days later. The pair were arrested after a man already in jail for a robbery, reported them to police.
Nunley and Taylor both pleaded guilty to murder. Taylor was executed in April 2014. Appearing in court on Tuesday (1 September) Nunley, again admitted his guilt, but was denied a clemency request by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. His defence team appealed the penalty as unconstitutional arguing that the convicted rapist would have been sentenced to life in prison without parole if he had been granted a plea deal.
They alleged that a plea deal had been refused because of racial bias. Nunley and Taylor were both black, while their victim was white. The US Supreme Court denied several appeals by lawyers representing Nunley, including one which stated that the death penalty amounted to "cruel and unusual punishment." The claims were rejected by the US Supreme Court. Nunley was finally executed on Tuesday in Bonne Terre, Missouri via lethal injection.
According to Sky News, Chris Koster, Missouri Attorney General, said in a statement: "Despite openly admitting his guilt to the court, it has taken 25 years to get him to the execution chamber. Nunley's case offers a textbook example showing why society is so frustrated with a system that has become too cumbersome."
Nunley is the sixth death row inmate to be put to death in Missouri this year. Of 20 executions nationally in 2015 so far, 16 have been in Missouri and Texas. The latest execution comes at the same time as Arkansas is scheduled to set execution dates for eight death row inmates. These executions would be the state's first in a decade.
Capital punishment has been a contentious issue throughout the US. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia abolished the practice, while 31 others continue to carry out executions. Nebraska became the latest state to vote against the death penalty which was banned in May.