56-year-old Leon Taylor, the man who killed a Kansas City gas station attendant Robert Newton in front of the worker’s young daughter, was executed by officials at the Kansas State Prison in Bonne Terre earlier today. ABC News reports that Leon Taylor was declared dead at 12:22 a.m. local time after he was injected with a dose of potassium chloride.
Before Leon Taylor was executed, he was seen covered in a white sheet, spending the last moments of his life talking to his family members. Later, prison officials injected the lethal chemicals, including 5 grams of pentobarbital to numb him and potassium chloride to perform the execution, into his body. The ABC News report adds that Taylor’s chest heaved for several seconds, then stopped soon after the drug began to take effect. His jaw went slack and he displayed no other movement. The drug reportedly killed Taylor in around eight minutes. Leon’s family members, four of them, were seated in a room adjacent to where he was executed and looked on reactionless as the drug claimed his life.
Earlier on Tuesday, a clemency plea that was submitted to governor Jay Nixon, asking him to grant clemency to Leon Taylor, was rejected. Prior to that, the U.S. Supreme Court too had rejected a similar plea on behalf of Leon. In the clemency request to the Governor, Leon Taylor’s attorneys claimed that following his long time in prison, he was a changed man, turning into a devout Christian and a man who helped other prisoners lodged at the facility. They also cited the fact that Taylor had a bad childhood, with his mother giving him alcohol when he was just five. What the clemency petition did not talk about was the fact that Taylor had also attempted to shoot the eight-year-old girl — but wasn’t able to do so because his gun jammed after he killed Newton.
All this resulted in the 1994 crime in which the then-53-year-old gas station attendant, Robert Newton, was shot dead by Taylor in front of his own stepdaughter. The shooting happened in the midst of a robbery attempt along with his half brother and half sister. Upon entering the store, Leon Taylor drew out a gun and ordered Newton to put $400 in a bag. Newton did it and the money was taken back into the car by his half brother, Willie Owens. However, Taylor wasn’t done yet. He forced Newton and the little girl to get into a back room. All the while, Newton pleaded with Leon Taylor not to shoot him — at least in front of his daughter. Leon Taylor, however, did not heed his pleas and shot Newton in the head in front of the girl. He then turned the gun on to the girl and pulled the trigger — but it jammed. Left with no option, he simply locked her in a room and sped away. The day was April 14, 1994.
It was a long wait for justice for the family members of Robert Newton, who, according to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, was “coldly murdered” by Leon Taylor.
“Those who knew and loved Robert Newton waited two decades for the imposition of justice that finally came early this morning.”
According to Jack Hunt, an assistant Jackson County prosecutor who worked on the case, the testimony of the child was crucial in delivering Leon Taylor the maximum possible sentence.
“You can imagine what a horrible crime this was, but when you see it coming out of a young person like that, it was hard to listen to.”
Do you think the execution of Leon Taylor was an apt punishment for his crime?
[Image via Missourinet]