A man who killed a suburban Kansas City gas station attendant in 1994 has been put to death — the ninth execution in Missouri this year.
Leon Taylor, 56, was pronounced dead at 12:22 a.m. at a Missouri state prison after a lethal injection, Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman Mike O’Connell said in a statement.
Taylor shot Robert Newton, 53, in the head as Newton’s 8-year-old stepdaughter watched at an Independence, Missouri, gas station in 1994. She testified that Taylor had tried to shoot her as well but the gun jammed.
Taylor’s lawyers had sought to have the U.S. Supreme Court stay the execution but the court denied the request without comment, according to court documents.
The attorneys also petitioned Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for clemency. Nixon denied that petition on Tuesday, saying Taylor “murdered in cold blood.”
Newton’s half brother, Dennis Smith, said during a news briefing that he remained bitter over the killing.
“Leon Taylor did more than just rob the store. He robbed our family, my brother, forever,” Smith said. “Almost 7,500 days have passed and finally tonight justice was served.”
Taylor was the ninth inmate executed in Missouri in 2014 and the 33rd person executed in the United States this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Taylor left a final written statement in which he apologized to the family of the victim.
“I am truly sorry that our lives had to entwine so tragically. I pray that the Lord will give you peace and continue to comfort you in His love,” Taylor wrote.
His last meal was eggs, bacon, donuts and orange drink, according to the corrections department.
Part of Taylor’s appeal was tied to a 2002 ruling by the Supreme Court that found only a jury, and not a judge, could impose a death sentence. Racial discrimination also played a role, according to Taylor’s attorneys.
The mixed-race jury in Taylor’s first trial deadlocked on a sentence and a judge sentenced him to death. Taylor appealed and in a second punishment trial an all-white jury ordered the death sentence. Taylor was black and Newton was white.
Taylor’s attorneys also contended that the execution should have been postponed until there was a ruling in a lawsuit brought by several Missouri inmates, including Taylor, against the state over its lethal injection protocols.