Updated: Dec 28, 2020
(Bonne Terre, MO) Walter “Arkie” Barton was murdered by the State of Missouri on May 19 at 6:10 pm at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic Correctional Center (ERDCC).
Barton was convicted in 1994 and has consistently maintained his innocence for the murder of Gladys Kuehler. It took the state five trials to convict Barton. His case is rife with the kinds of errors typical in innocence cases – prosecutorial misconduct, jailhouse snitches, inadequate counsel, and more.
Barton’s attorneys argue that a review of the blood spatter evidence in this case would prove his innocence. Although the courts never allowed for that review, three jury members signed affidavits stating that the blood spatter evidence would have influenced their deliberations. The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to safely conduct the investigations that were needed to do the work of a last minute appeal. In addition to the blood spatter evidence, the testimony of jailhouse snitches was central to the evidence used to convict Barton, three of the four have recanted. Despite thousands of calls and letters, Governor Parson chose not to use his executive powers to grant a reprieve and Missouri became the first state to carry out an execution during the global Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Associated Press, Barton’s last words were, “I, Walter “Arkie” Barton, am innocent and they are executing an innocent man.” Additionally, it has been reported that there were no family or supporters of Gladys Kuehler in attendance. Arkie’s death is not justice for Gladys Kuehler.
Our deepest gratitude extends to the participants and panelists in the Virtual Vigil for Walter “Arkie” Barton. Panelists from across the globe provided comforting words and guidance to us all as we shed light on violence committed by the state. Over 18K viewers have engaged with the vigil in the last 24 hours following the execution and hundreds have shared. We know the nation and the world are looking at the grave miscarriage of justice committed on May 19th to Walter “Arkie” Barton.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, for every nine people executed in the United States in the modern era of the death penalty, one person on death row has been exonerated. In states like Missouri that allow for judges to override deadlock juries the likelihood of a wrongful conviction increases. Of the 21 men who remain on Missouri’s death row, others are likely innocent. Our promise to Walter “Arkie” Barton is to remain vigilant in our struggle.
Death is not justice, Rest in Power Walter “Arkie” Barton.