Eric Lawson Sentenced to Life
(St. Louis, Missouri) - On May 6th, 2021, Eric Lawson was convicted on three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole on all counts for the 2012 murders of Aiden Lawson, Breiana Ray, and Gwendolyn Ray. St. Louis jurors chose a life sentence rather than the death penalty following several days of witness testimony and just five hours of jury deliberation. As reported to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the family of the victims was supportive of the jury's decision stating, ““The family’s happy,” said Vincent Ray, 56, a retired St. Louis police officer and brother of Gwendolyn Ray. “This is an end that we’re happy with, that we’re finally getting some justice for. So, nine years has been long, but we’re glad it’s at an end.” This was the first death penalty trial in St. Louis City in a decade. Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty has been closely covering Mr. Lawson's case since late 2019, when the Attorney General’s Office was unable to impanel a death-qualified jury, causing the courts to issue a mistrial. Despite concerns of positive COVID-19 cases among potential jurors, in early April 2021, prosecutors with the Attorney General's Office summoned an unheard of 3400 St. Louisans to obtain a death-qualified jury in the case of Lawson. The nearly all-white jury's decision on May 6th, 2021, to sentence Mr. Lawson to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LWOP) signifies the abundant lack of support for the death penalty in St. Louis City. There are three additional pending capital cases in St. Louis City with the Circuit Attorney's Office at this time. All three individuals facing the death penalty in St. Louis City are Black men. Members of Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Organization for Black Struggle St. Louis, the Second Chance Freedom Foundation, and individuals of vast inter-faith communities in St. Louis gathered Thursday, May 6, 2021, outside the Carnahan Courthouse in downtown St. Louis as jurors deliberated whether to give a death sentence to Eric Lawson. We thank all members of the abolitionist community who gathered in support of Mr. Lawson and the victims' families over the last several weeks.
There are currently 23 pending capital cases across Missouri. Each person with a pending capital case, along with the victims' families and defense teams, needs our support as they navigate the state’s incessant desire to further state murder and prolong pain and suffering. MADP needs your support now more than ever to ensure that we can stop death sentences, aid our communities through true justice and healing, stop executions, and end the death penalty. Please donate what you can to MADP today to further the work of abolition in Missouri.