Now the media is sniffing around another case in which a Missouri man was executed for a crime he might not have committed:
Missouri death sentence case gets another look
If innocence of executed man is proven, case would set a precedent
The Associated Press
ST. LOUIS - Many death row inmates proclaim their innocence, but Roy “Hog” Roberts, a big man, loud and profane, was adamant. He was so adamant that in the waning days before his 1999 execution for the murder of a prison guard, he demanded a polygraph test.
Attorney Bruce Livingston looked at the results and walked into Roberts’ small gray cell at Missouri’s Potosi Correctional Center and told him the news: He passed. The test indicated Roberts was telling the truth when he said he did not hold down guard Tom Jackson while other inmates stabbed him.
Tears rolled down the big man’s cheeks. His voice grew unusually quiet. “When do I get out of here?” he asked.
Livingston remembers the heartbreak of explaining that the polygraph was of no real value unless it swayed the governor. It didn’t. A few days later, Roberts was put to death.
Back in the spotlight
Roberts’ case is back in the spotlight amid heightened scrutiny of the death penalty in Missouri — and a new investigation in a separate case into whether the state executed an innocent man.
In 2000, the anti-death penalty group Equal Justice USA released a national report citing 16 potential cases of wrongful executions. Both Missouri cases are among them.
“I think if I had to list all 16 I would put him (Roberts) first,” said Claudia Whitman, who wrote the report. “There was really nothing there to convict him.”
There has never been a known case of an innocent person being executed in the United States, and those on both sides agree such a determination would create unprecedented concerns about the death penalty.
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