Conservatives converge in Topeka for death penalty repeal, while Mo. execution looms

Conservative leaders were meeting at the Kansas State House in Topeka the afternoon of March 17 to rally support for House Bill 2129, which would abolish the death penalty in Kansas, and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Previously, Rep. Steven Becker of Buhler, Kan., who introduced the bill in committee on Jan. 27, told NCR Feb. 4, “What I want to accomplish with that bill is to replace that death penalty with life in prison without the possibility of parole, only this time, as I put it, this time we would really mean it.”

In a March 16 release issued by the Kansas Coalition Against the Death Penalty (KCADP), Rep. Bill Sutton, R-Gardner, said, “I am pro-life across the board. That is non-negotiable. By ending the death penalty, Kansas can take an important step toward promoting a culture of life, as well as end a costly and ineffective government program.”

Gardner planned to attend today’s event, along with former Republican State Rep. Anthony Brown. “More Kansas conservatives like myself are recognizing that the death penalty is unnecessary and in many ways harmful to the state,” Brown said in KCADP’s release. “Because of this growing conservative support, red states like Kansas are considering ending the death penalty.”

Meanwhile, neighboring state Missouri is scheduled to execute Cecil Clayton, 74, at 6 p.m. March 17. According to The Associated Press, Clayton, convicted of killing Christopher Castetter, a Barry County sheriff’s deputy, will be the second person executed in Missouri in 2015.

AP reported that Clayton’s attorneys are asking the U.S. Supreme Court and Gov. Jay Nixon for clemency, claiming that Clayton is brain damaged from a 1972 sawmill accident.

From AP:

“Clayton's attorneys argue that he suffers from lingering effects of a 1972 sawmill accident in which a piece of wood shot through his skull. Surgeons removed about 8 percent of Clayton's brain, including one-fifth of the frontal lobe that governs impulse control and judgment.

His lawyers say Clayton has an IQ of 71 and that psychiatric evaluations indicate he doesn't understand the significance of his scheduled execution or the reasons for it, making him ineligible for execution under state and federal law.”

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