The state of Missouri on June 6 carried out its third execution of the year, putting Michael Andrew Tisius to death by lethal injection.
Tisius was convicted of fatally shooting two jailers, Jason Acton and Leon Egley, while unsuccessfully attempting to free his former cellmate from the Randolph County jail in 2000, when he was 19.
The execution followed a short-lived stay issued by a federal judge in Kansas City. On May 31, Judge Stephen R. Bough of the Western District of Missouri said more time was needed to resolve claims that a juror at his 2010 resentencing hearing couldn’t read English.
Missouri law bars anyone “unable to read, speak and understand the English language” from serving on a jury. Bough said it was not clear if the unnamed juror was actually illiterate or simply couldn’t read very well. The juror also claimed a courthouse employee helped him fill out the juror questionnaire.
“In sum, the record contains conflicting evidence which cannot be resolved without an evidentiary hearing,” Bough wrote.
However, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the stay two days later, holding that Tisius had already unsuccessfully challenged his conviction, and no new effort could be made because he didn’t “assert a new, retroactive rule of constitutional law, the new claim could have been timely investigated by counsel and raised in earlier habeas proceedings but was not, and it does not raise an issue that establishes actual innocence.”
The U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on June 5 announced that he wouldn’t grant clemency.
“Missouri’s judicial system provided Mr. Tisius with due process and fair proceedings for his brutal murders of two Randolph County jail guards,” Parson said. “Having run a small county jail, I know firsthand the hard work and selflessness displayed by those who work there. It’s despicable that two dedicated public servants were murdered in a failed attempt to help another criminal evade the law.”
Tisius originally was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to death in 2003. During post-conviction proceedings a circuit judge ordered a new penalty phase for Tisius, which the Supreme Court affirmed in 2006. However, a jury in 2010 once again sentenced him to death.
Tisius was previously scheduled to be executed in August 2012, but the Missouri Supreme Court stayed that execution pending further appeals.