Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lethal Injection or Gas Chamber??

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster suggested this week that execution in the gas chamber might have to be reinstated.  It seems that we’re running out of the drugs needed to execute condemned killers by lethal injection. 

Barbara Jo Wood's workplace
On a frigid January in 1994, Barbara Jo Wood, a loving mother and grandmother, arrived at South County Mall to work her part-time job.  After she parked her car, two men approached and abducted her at gunpoint from the parking lot.  As it turns out, one of the men was Stanley Hall.  Stanley and his partner needed a car to do a drive-by shooting.  They selected Barbara’s car.  Why Barbara?  She was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The two men drove her around St. Louis for a few hours, trying to decide how to get rid of her.  They didn’t want to just release her, fearing she would call the police and they would get caught in her stolen car.  As they drove around, Barbara showed them photographs of her grandchildren, quietly begging for her life.
Stanley Hall and his partner made a decision.  Let’s shoot her and throw her off the McKinley Bridge downtown.  With very little traffic on the bridge late in the January night, Stanley and his partner ordered Barbara out of the car.  Knowing what was going to happen, Barbara fought for her life.  She was shot multiple times.  Stanley picked her up and threw her over the rail into the icy Mississippi.  Scared, Stanley’s partner drove off as traffic approached, leaving Stanley on the bridge. 

Stanley was picked up on the Illinois side of the bridge by the Venice Police, but denied any crimes.  At this point, nobody knew Barbara Wood had been abducted and there was no body recovered.  Investigation soon revealed that the incident on the bridge actually occurred in Missouri.  Stanley Hall was turned over to St. Louis County Police when it was determined the initial crime started in South County.

All of these details are forever embedded in my memory.  I was in our Homicide Unit at the time and Stanley Hall was turned over to my partner and I for investigation.  Stanley eventually told us many of the details.  In 1996, Stanley was found guilty of these crimes and a death sentence was announced.  He overturned a table in the courtroom and tried to run.  Years and years of legal wrangling then commenced. 

Finally, in 2005, Stanley Hall and Lady Justice met at the Potosi prison.  As Stanley’s family flashed gang signs and danced to loud music in front of a large window near him, he received several quick injections and permanently closed his eyes.  As a witness for the state, I was also watching.
Gas or lethal injection?  No matter how Missouri decides to execute our evil killers, it will be too good for them.  I’m sure Barbara’s family is with me on this.  All of us can only hope we die so easily. 

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