U.S. News

Missouri executes man convicted of killing former neighbor

ATLANTA/KANSAS CITY, Mo. (Reuters) - Missouri early on Wednesday executed a man convicted of the 1998 killing of an elderly former neighbor, state officials said, the second inmate put to death in the United States within hours.

Paul Goodwin, 48, received a lethal injection at a state prison in Bonne Terre and was pronounced dead at 1.25 a.m. CST (0725 GMT), Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O’Connell said.

Goodwin was convicted of sexually assaulting 63-year-old widow Joan Crotts, pushing her down her basement stairs and beating her with a sledgehammer in her home in St. Louis County. She died later that day in surgery.

“Tonight isn’t about Paul Goodwin. It’s about justice for Joan Crotts,” her son Kent Decker said in a statement. “Paul has stolen so much from this family, but after tonight, I promise that not one more minute of my time will be wasted on him.”

Goodwin was one of several Missouri death row inmates who sued state officials over the state’s lethal injection protocols, and his attorneys argued in appeals that he should be entitled to a stay of execution at least until that lawsuit was resolved.

Goodwin argued in court filings that the state’s use of a compounded drug prepared by an unidentified laboratory and unidentified pharmacist with unidentified ingredients created a risk of severe pain. His attorneys also said he was mentally disabled.

But the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday denied his stay requests.

Hours before Goodwin’s execution, 49-year-old Robert Wayne Holsey was put to death in Georgia by lethal injection for fatally shooting Baldwin County sheriff’s deputy Will Robinson in the head after a convenience store robbery in 1995, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said in a statement.

They were the last of 35 inmates executed in the United States this year -- the lowest number since 1994 when 31 inmates were executed, according to the Death Penalty Information Center data.

Holsey’s attorneys argued against his execution in part because he was represented at trial by Andrew Prince, who they said drank large quantities of alcohol each night after the proceedings.

They also said Holsey was mentally disabled, but the U.S. Supreme Court denied the stay of execution.

Prince later lost his law license and went to prison for stealing money from clients. Before he died in 2011, he testified that he did not adequately represent Holsey, said attorney Brian Kammer, who handled Holsey’s appeals.

Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Curtis Skinner; Editing by Jeremy Laurence and Andrew Heavens