USA - Missouri. Michael Tisius, 42, White, executed

USA - M. Tisius

07 June 2023 :

(June 6, 2023) - Michael Tisius, 42, White, executed After Jurors Waver on Death Sentence.
The state of Missouri on Tuesday evening executed Michael Tisius, who was convicted of fatally shooting two guards during a botched jail escape more than two decades ago. Tisius, 42, died by lethal injection at 6:10 p.m. at a prison in Bonne Terre.
In a handwritten final statement, Tisius said he was “sorry it had to come to this” and that he “really did try to become a better man.” “I am holding tightly to my faith. It’s all I have left to take with me,” he wrote. “I am sorry it had to come to this in this way. I wish I could have made things right while I was still here.”
His case attracted international attention and pleas for clemency, especially after several jurors who had voted to sentence Mr. Tisius to death said in a petition to the governor that they now believed life imprisonment was appropriate.
Mr. Tisius’s lawyers had also argued that another juror from the sentencing trial was unable to read, a requirement under Missouri law for jury service.
Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, said in a statement on Monday that Mr. Tisius’s case “received fair and careful review at each step in the judicial process.”
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay of execution for Mr. Tisius, rejecting his lawyers’ argument that his age at the time of the crime, 19, should spare him from the death penalty. Mr. Tisius’s legal appeals have been exhausted.
That left the possibility that Mr. Parson would step in and halt the execution. A former sheriff, Mr. Parson was seen as unlikely to commute the sentence. For weeks, organizations and institutions — including the American Bar Association, the Missouri State Public Defenders, the European Union and the Catholic Church — lobbied him, arguing for clemency.
Of the jury that had voted to sentence Mr. Tisius to death in 2010, six jurors, including two alternates, have said in sworn affidavits included in the clemency petition that they would be supportive or would not object if Mr. Parson stepped in to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, rather than death.
At least one surviving family member of one of the murder victims supported execution: Linda Arena, the older sister of Jason Acton, one of the slain jail employees, said in an interview that she felt justice would have been served once the death penalty had been carried out.
The murders occurred in June 2000, when Mr. Tisius and Tracie Bulington entered a county jail and tried to free Roy Vance, a friend who was an inmate. During the attempt, Mr. Tisius shot and killed two jail employees, then fled.
Lawyers for Mr. Tisius had appealed for clemency, saying that he suffered abuse and neglect in his childhood, had a limited mental capacity for decision-making and was heavily influenced by the older Mr. Vance, who convinced him to carry out the plot.
There is no legal recourse for jurors in this position, so those who had reconsidered in Mr. Tisius’s case had only an emotional appeal to the governor.
The legal system “doesn’t leave room for the emotional trauma that happens to jurors later,” said Juandalynn Taylor, a visiting professor at Gonzaga University School of Law who teaches on the death penalty. She said that jurors were asking themselves: “I have voted to wipe someone off the earth — how do I deal with that?”
Tisius becomes the third person executed in Missouri this year, the 96th since Missouri resumed executions in 1989, the 12th person executed nationally in 2023, and the 1,570th overall since the nation resumed executions in 1977.


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