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Missouri executes Leonard Taylor, convicted of 2004 murders, despite innocence claim

Katie Moore, Bill Lukitsch and Luke Nozicka, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Leonard “Raheem” Taylor, who was convicted in a 2004 quadruple murder but maintained his innocence, died by lethal injection Tuesday night at a prison in eastern Missouri.

Taylor, 58, was executed at the state prison in Bonne Terre. He was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m. Central time.

In his final written statement, Taylor said Muslims don’t die but live on “eternally in the hearts” of family and friends.

“Death is not your enemy, it is your destiny,” he wrote in part of the statement. “Look forward to meeting it. Peace!”

In a statement, the Midwest Innocence Project said Taylor was unjustly “killed by the very system that should have protected him.”

“Since the moment of his arrest, Mr. Taylor proclaimed his innocence, loudly and for all who would hear. Yet no one — not the police, not the prosecutor, not the attorneys charged with defending him — seriously investigated that claim of innocence,” the group wrote.


In recent weeks, attorneys for Taylor highlighted new information in an effort to halt his execution. Groups such as the Innocence Project and Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty also threw their support behind Taylor, who said he was in California when his girlfriend and her three kids were fatally shot in St. Louis County.

Gov. Mike Parson denied his clemency request Monday, saying Taylor “brutally murdered” the victims.

“The evidence shows Taylor committed these atrocities and a jury found him guilty,” Parson said. “Despite his self-serving claim of innocence, the facts of his guilt in this gruesome quadruple homicide remain.”

In the days leading up to the execution, two petitions before the Missouri Supreme Court were denied. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. In a docket entry, the high court rejected a stay of execution.


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