MISSOURI (USA): DEATH ROW INMATE JOHN WINFIELD GIVEN STAY OF EXECUTION
June 12, 2014: US district judge Catherine Perry granted a stay of execution for John Winfield, less than a week before his scheduled execution.
Winfield was scheduled to die at 12.01am on Wednesday, for killing two women in 1996.
One of several court appeals on his behalf cited concerns that a corrections department employee who initially wanted to write a clemency letter on Winfield's behalf decided not to after intimidation by prison officials.
Court documents show that Terry Cole, the laundry director at the Potosi Correctional Center, which houses death row inmates in Missouri, told Winfield's attorneys he supported Winfield's clemency request and was willing to write a letter on Winfield's behalf.
The judge wrote in her ruling that Cole was told by a prison administrator that there was no policy prohibiting such a letter, but workers must tell supervisors if they have contact with an inmate's attorney. But the judge said that on May 20, a corrections department investigator told Cole he was under investigation for alleged "over-familiarity" with Winfield.
Cole eventually decided against writing the letter. Cole denied being threatened, but the judge said evidence indicated he feared for his job. "The evidence presented to me shows that Winfield is likely to be able to prove at a later trial that prison officials took actions to intimidate Cole to keep him from providing support for Winfield's clemency petition," the judge wrote.
Winfield attorney Joseph Luby said Cole supervised Winfield's work at the prison and spends eight hours a day with him. He said Cole has described Winfield as among the "elite 1 percent of all inmates" in terms of his behavior, and is an inmate who has served as a mentor for young prisoners. "This 20-year corrections staff member was made to fear for his job when he wanted to tell the truth about Mr. Winfield's remarkable rehabilitation and the positive good he will continue to do if his life is spared," Luby said in a statement. (Sources: theguardian.com, Associated Press, 12/06/2014)