Missouri is set to execute Leon Taylor on Tuesday…. continuing the pace of an execution date each month since last year.
Leon Taylor is not the same person that he was when he took the life of Robert Newton during a robbery in 1994. Today at 56, Leon is very active in the Christian community at Potosi Correctional Center, even recording gospel songs as a way to inspire others. He has admitted his mistakes in life and has become a respected role-model for other inmates. He has provided spiritual guidance to inmates in the hospice program, has helped mentor inmates and is a member of Prayer Warriors—inmates who pray for the needs of other inmates.
This is a far cry from the abusive upbringing that he had where he was often the brunt of physical abuse from his father and alcoholic mother.
Like many other individuals on death row, race has played a disparate role in Leon’s case. In his first trial, when a jury of both blacks and white could not agree on a sentence, the judge sentenced him to death. When that sentence was reversed, the prosecutor used his peremptory challenges to strike African Americans from the jury, the next all-white jury then sentenced him to death.
When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that judges cannot impose a death sentence unless the defendant expressly waives his right to jury sentencing, many Missouri death row inmates under this situation automatically had their sentences changed to life without parole. But not Leon. This cannot be justice.
Leon has proved that he is no longer a threat to society. He has even reached out to the widow of his victim and expressed his remorse for his actions. She believes he is sincere and has publicly forgiven him.
Leon’s life has value and he can contribute to society by his good works in prison. Please ask Governor Nixon not to go forward with this execution by clicking https://governor.mo.gov/get-involved/contact-the-governors-office or by calling 573-751-3222.