The 5th Execution of 2023
Missouri executed 58-year-old Leonard
Taylor on February 7, 2023, who was convicted of killing his girlfriend and her three children at
their home in Jennings nearly two decades ago, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
A state executioner delivered a fatal dose of
pentobarbital at 6:07 p.m., and Taylor was pronounced dead a short time later,
according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.
“Muslims don’t die. We live eternally in the hearts of
our family and friends,” Taylor wrote in his final statement following a verse
from the Quran. “From Allah we come, and to Allah we all shall return.
Everybody will get their turn to die.”
Taylor was the third person to be executed in Missouri
in three months. His death marked only the second time since 2015 that more
than one person was executed in a calendar year.
He was convicted in 2008 of killing 28-year-old Angela
Rowe and her three children, Alexus Conley, 10, AcQreya Conley, 6, and Tyrese
Conley, 5, at their home on Park Lane in Jennings. He has insisted he is
innocent of the killings.
Rowe’s older sister, Gerjuan Rowe, attended Tuesday’s
execution along with eight other loved ones.
“Justice was served,” Rowe said. “Now, I get a little
Rowe and her children were found Dec. 3, 2004. Rowe
was covered by blankets and shot four times, once fatally in the head. The
children were also shot and lined up on a bed.
Prosecutors said they believed the family was shot on
the night of Nov. 23 or early morning of Nov. 24, 2004.
Taylor had called his brother just before midnight,
then again at 12:05 a.m. Nov. 24, and admitted to the killings. The brother
told police Taylor stayed in the house with the bodies because he was waiting
for a letter from his wife in California.
On Nov. 26, Taylor’s sister-in-law drove him to the
airport. She testified at trial she saw him drop a long-barreled revolver into
a sewer before he left.
Taylor was arrested Dec. 9 in Kentucky in possession
of fake IDs and pamphlets about creating a false identity, authorities said.
Police later tested the sunglasses he wore that day and found blood that
matched Rowe’s DNA.
A jury sentenced Taylor to death on Feb. 29, 2008, for
the four murders.
Taylor had since filed several appeals, including a
request last month asking St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell to hold a
hearing to review discrepancies in the state’s evidence and consider new
declarations from Taylor’s daughter and her mother saying Taylor was actually
in Los Angeles at the time of the killings.
Bell denied that request last week, finding “the facts are not
there to support a credible case of innocence.”
On Monday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson denied Taylor’s
petition for clemency.
“Leonard Taylor brutally murdered a mother and her
three children. The evidence shows Taylor committed these atrocities and a jury
found him guilty,” Parson said in a statement. “Despite his self-serving claim
of innocence, the facts of his guilt in this gruesome quadruple homicide
Taylor, meanwhile, met with his three daughters, his
sister, his two attorneys and a spiritual adviser.
On Tuesday morning at around 11 a.m., he ate a last
meal of a seafood platter, cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake.
At 5:52 p.m., it was announced all pending appeals and
petitions, including one before the U.S. Supreme Court, had been denied. At
6:06 p.m., the order for execution was given.
Taylor was pronounced dead at 6:16 p.m.
Afterward, Gerjuan Rowe reflected on the years waiting
for Taylor’s death. She said it was painful to answer questions from
investigators during his appeals and see his photo on her television screen.
She said she still missed her sister and her nieces
and nephew and wondered what they would be like now as adults.
The execution, she said, gave her a bit of peace.
Still, “It’s not going to change nothing,” she said.
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