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Mo. governor permits 2 executions since deferring to the pope in Jan.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan has refused to intervene in the execution of two convicted murderers since he commuted the death sentence of a triple murderer at the request of Pope John Paul II in late January.
The latest execution took place March 10 just after midnight. The Vatican had sought Carnahan’s intervention, but this time to no avail.
News media noted the convict, Roy Roberts, 46, had buttressed his claims of innocence by insisting on taking and then passing a lie detector test administered by a former Kansas City police department polygrapher who had been with the department for 30 years.
Carnahan is a Southern Baptist layman and popular Democrat planning a run next year for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Republican John Ashcroft, a former Missouri governor.
When he commuted the sentence of Darrell Mease on Jan. 27, Carnahan noted in a statement the next day “the historical significance of the papal visit to the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri,” and stated, “I continue to support capital punishment, but after careful consideration of [the pope’s] direct and personal appeal and because of a deep and abiding respect for the pontiff and all he represents, I decided last night to grant his request.”
Roberts, the prisoner executed March 9, was convicted for the death of a prison guard during a 1983 riot by 25 or 30 prisoners, found guilty of holding the guard while other prisoners killed him. Roberts was in prison at the time for an armed robbery four years earlier.
Roberts claimed he could not have killed the guard because he was brawling at the time with another guard, who later confirmed that he and Roberts indeed had fought during the melee. But three other guards identified Roberts as the prisoner who held the murdered guard, even though, according to Roberts’ clemency petition, they did not do so during the initial investigation, The New York Times reported. Defense attorneys also contended Roberts had no blood on him after the incident, the Associated Press reported.
A St. Louis newspaper columnist additionally quoted an acquaintance of Roberts as admitting to the armed robbery, involving restaurant receipts of $2,000, The Times reported.
“You’re killing an innocent man,” Roberts was quoted as saying before dying by lethal injection.
Mease, the prison whose death sentence Carnahan commuted, claims to have had a jailhouse conversion prior to his 1988 conviction for the murder of Lloyd J. Lawrence, in a dispute over control of Lawrence’s methamphetamine-producing business. Also murdered were Lawrence’s wife and 19-year-old disabled grandson near their rural southwest-Missouri farmhouse. Mease initially confessed to the crime, but on appeal contended the confession had been obtained illegally.