Despite serious questions about its justice system, Missouri carried out the ultimate punishment. Earl Ringo was executed on September 10th for the 1998 murders of Dennis Poysner and Joanna Baysinger. We appreciate all the people who engaged in emailing Governor Nixon to say there are too many concerns about justice in Missouri, and Ringo’s case in particular, to go through with this execution.
Ringo was convicted primarily based on the testimony of his co-defendant, who had made a deal with the State that they would spare his life if he testified against Earl. It is undisputed that the co-defendant, and not Earl, was the actual killer of at least one of the victims. The co-defendant has since admitted that he made the decision to testify against Ringo after being removed from the jail and threatened by the police.
Mr. Ringo, an African American, was convicted by an all-white jury from Cape-Girardeau County Missouri, a county which is 88.9% white and only 4.5% African American. Of the 163 people from which Earl’s jury was selected, only four were African American—none of them were selected for the final jury panel.
Nationwide, statistics point to an undeniable role of race in capital sentencing decisions. In 77% of crimes in which death is the sentence, the victim of the murder was white. 34% of death-row inmates are black. In Missouri, an independent review by the American Bar Association in 2012 specifically found that Missouri’s capital punishment system is influenced by race and that racial considerations play an improper role in determining outcomes in capital cases.
Justice applied unequally is not justice at all. Recent events in Ferguson have demonstrated a deep racial divide still exists in Missouri. We appreciate all who offered to Tell Governor Nixon to stop this execution!