The retrial which Lloyd Schlup had struggled for 14 years
ended on March 22 before it began, when he pled "guilty" and got life in a plea bargain offered by Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Callahan. That he can't now be executed "is a victory," asserts Sean O'Brien, the appellate attorney responsible for uncovering new evidence which compelled Gov. Mel Carnahan to stay his execution in 1993 and federal courts to order an evidentiary hearing then retrial.
Schlup had been sentenced to death for allegedly holding fellow prisoner, Arthur Dade while another inmate threw hot bleach in his face and a third fatally stabbed him on February 3, 1984 in the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) in Jefferson City.
Ironically, says O'Brien, "Fifteen years ago, Lloyd said he didn't do it
got death. Today they (Callahan and Attorney General Jay Nixon) are ready to
spare his life" when he admits guilt. It's not surprising that Schlup admitted guilt.
"To appreciate Lloyd's decision you have to understand the pressure he was under and the sheer torture of being in that death watch cell twice," O'Brien explains.
In his first near-death judicial experience, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay 36 hours before his scheduled midnight execution in March 1992. Nixon however, appealed that stay. The Court did not deny his motion until 5:00 p.m.-- nearly 18 hours into the day the state could have legally killed him. During that time he was denied any visitors or outside contact. At any moment he could have been taken into the prison's infirmary (which ironically doubles as the death chamber) and executed.
During his second brush with death, Gov. Carnahan intervened in November 1993, just eight hours shy of his scheduled demise. Understandably, Lloyd "didn't want to put his mother through that" trauma again, should a jury somehow have again sentenced him to death. We were unable to connect for his comments, before we went to print.
Carnahan reported he took his action mainly to allow the US Supreme Court to rule in Schlup's case. In January 1995, that Court directed the 8th District Court to hold an evidentiary hearing before Judge Jean Hamilton. O'Brien called as witnesses or presented affidavits of 20 men imprisoned in that MSP housing unit, plus a few guards-- all of whom either saw Schlup elsewhere in the prison at the time of the killing or witnessed the murder and insisted he was not involved.
In the evidentiary hearing, Judge Hamilton essentially ruled that any jury,
having heard the same evidence presented in her court, would have found
Schlup not guilty. She ordered his death sentence vacated, pending any state
response. Last year, Callahan officially filed to retry the case.
Lloyd's exoneration in court would have further shown the fallibility
of capital punishment and officially shown Missouri courts at times do (just as have their counterparts in Illinois and other states)-- wrongfully sentence people to death. The political fallout of Schlup being found not guilty could have been particularly embarrassing to Nixon and Callahan.
We with the FOR congratulate Lloyd on finally overcoming his unjust death sentence. Further, we wish him patience, hope and success both in completing his prison time as quickly as possible and ultimately in adjusting to life outside prison walls.
For more information:
Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation
2018 Hazelwood Dr.
Columbia MO 65201
The CCADP offers free webpages to over 500 Death Row Prisoners
Contact us for more information.
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