Missouri Court Rejects Appeals Of Two Death Row Inmates

by shermaat on August 27, 2012

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The Missouri State Supreme Court has rejected the appeals of two death row inmates who claimed that their attorneys had provided ineffective assistance of counsel during their murder trials.

In unanimous decisions, the court upheld the convictions and death sentences of Missouri death row convicts Carman Deck and Scott McLaughlin.

Carman Deck was convicted of the fatal shootings of James and Zelma Long during a robbery of their home near De Soto in 1996. His two death sentences were twice overturned, reaching all the way to being overturned by a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2005, due to his having been shackled in the presence of jurors.

At a re-sentencing hearing, Deck again received two death sentences, which were upheld by the state Supreme Court in January 2010. In his latest appeal, Deck argued that his attorney erred in a variety of ways, including by not calling additional mitigating witnesses to testify about his troubled childhood and by failing to conduct neuropsychological testing on him.

Scott McLaughlin was convicted of raping and stabbing to death Beverly Guenther, his former girlfriend, in St. Louis County in 2003.

McLaughlin was sentenced to death by a trial judge after jurors found that he had acted with the necessary depravity of mind to be executed. However, the trial jury was deadlocked on whether finding was offset by other mitigating factors. The state Supreme Court upheld McLaughlin’s death sentence in 2008.

In his latest appeal, McLaughlin argued that the judge who sentenced him to death should have been disqualified from presiding over his subsequent claims that his trial attorney was ineffective. Among other things, McLaughlin claimed his attorney should have presented evidence about his mental health and neuropsychological impairments as mitigating evidence in the penalty phase.

The Missouri State Supreme Court disagreed.

As capital cases the matters will be appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth District.

This article was written on behalf of the Contra Costa County DUI attorneys.




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