On February 7, the state of Missouri is set to execute Leonard “Raheem” Taylor for the 2004 murders of Angela Rowe, Alexus Conley, Acqreya Conley, and Tyrese Conley. Mr. Taylor – who has maintained his innocence throughout his arrest, trial, conviction, and prison sentence – has previously made a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The Missouri courts, however, have found that even assuming the particular deficiencies that Mr. Taylor alleges to be true, the overwhelming majority of the case’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt is in favor of Mr. Taylor’s guilt. In an effort to spare Mr. Taylor’s life, the Missouri bishops have signed a letter requesting Missouri Governor Mike Parson to grant Mr. Taylor clemency and commute his sentence to life without parole. If Governor Parson does not grant clemency, this will be Missouri’s second execution of the year, and third since last November.
The Catholic Church is strongly opposed to the death penalty because it disregards the sanctity and dignity of human life. Furthermore, we also have concerns that the use of the death penalty promotes vengeance as a value of our criminal justice system. The Missouri Catholic Conference is hosting a respectful protest outside the governor’s office at the Missouri Capitol from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm on February 7, as well as a vigil outside the Missouri Supreme Court from 5:00 to 6:00 pm the same day; all are welcome to attend. If you would like to contact Governor Parson regarding Mr. Taylor’s sentence, you can reach his office via phone at (573)751-3222 or email him here.