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Murderer Executed Despite Controversy - KOAM TV 7

Murderer Executed Despite Controversy

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The state of Missouri executed a brain damaged inmate Tuesday night for the murder of a Southwest Missouri law officer.

74-year old Cecil Clayton, the oldest man on Missouri's death row, died by lethal injection for the 1996 murder of a Barry County sheriff's deputy.

His defense sought a last minute stay of execution.  

The supreme court denied it Tuesday evening and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declined to grant clemency.

Those who knew the victim Feel they waited long enough.

It's been almost 20 years, but law enforcement in Barry County still talk about the murder of deputy sheriff Chris Castetter.

Several in the barry county sheriff's office, including Sheriff Mike Epperly, worked with Castetter..

"We loved Chris just like a brother," Epperly said.

They vividly remember the deputy's murder.

"It was just horrible," Det. Robert Evenson said. "It was as if you lost one of your immediate family members."

Cecil Clayton was arrested, found guilty, then sentenced to death for shooting and killing Castetter.  

"Chris wasn't even able to get out of his car," Epperly said. "He was shot from sitting in his car."

Despite Clayton's guilt, many say executing Clayton is illegal due to questions about Clayton's mental state. And say a competency hearing was needed.

"Unless there is such a hearing, you can't have any confidence that the execution is lawful," Executive Dir. of Death Penalty Information Center Robert Dunham said.

Clayton's defense argues a sawmill accident in 1972 left Clayton brain damaged and unfit for execution.

The accident destroyed nearly 8% of Clayton's brain. Which Clayton's defense argues left him unable to grasp the significance of his death sentence.

"In 25 years of capitol work I have never seen a situation in which the state was attempting to execute an individual who literally has a hole in his head," Dunham said.

But when current law enforcement look at the execution of Clayton, they don't see controversy. They see closure.

"I think that is likely a last resort for his stay of execution," Epperly said.

"I think Clayton knew what he was doing when he did it," Evenson said. "And I'm sure that he probably still knows what he did. And I'm just ready for him to be punished for it."

"And it's been nearly, what, 18 years now?," Epperly said. "I think the family is ready for some justice."

Clayton was scheduled to be lethally injected 6pm, Tuesday. Clayton was executed by lethal injection at 9:13 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m.
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