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ST. LOUIS (AP) - By the time the U.S. Supreme Court refused a last-minute stay of execution for Herbert Smulls, the Missouri inmate was already dead. His attorneys say it was the third straight time a Missouri inmate has been executed with an appeal pending.
 
Late Wednesday, attorneys for Smulls made one last appeal to the Supreme Court. It had already ruled hours earlier that the execution could proceed.
 
Smulls' attorney Joseph Luby says the stay was denied at 10:24 p.m., four minutes after Smulls was pronounced dead.
 
Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster says in a statement that the Supreme Court has ruled that pending litigation is not sufficient to stop an execution. He says the state directly asked the high court if the execution should be stayed, and was told no.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri Senate committee is working through ideas for addressing struggling school districts and a law that forces unaccredited districts to pay for students to transfer.
 
   The Senate Education Committee examined legislation this week sponsored by its chairman, Republican David Pearce of Warrensburg. The panel focused last week on a proposal by several St. Louis-area senators, and Pearce says there will be hearings on other proposals in the next two weeks.
 
   Pearce says the committee needs to decide what is important to include in a bill. Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey said Thursday he would like the full chamber to start debate on a proposal in mid-February.
 
   Pearce's measure provides partly for creating a statewide "achievement district" to manage underperforming schools in unaccredited districts.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri woman who as a teenager wrote that killing a young neighbor girl was an "ahmazing" thrill is now asking a judge to overturn her guilty plea.
 
   Alyssa Bustamante testified in court Thursday that she wouldn't have pleaded guilty to the 2009 slaying of 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten if she'd known about a pending U.S. Supreme Court case involving juvenile murder defendants.
 
   Bustamante had been facing a first-degree murder charge punishable by life without parole. She pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in January 2012 and was sentenced to life with the chance of parole.
 
   The Supreme Court later ruled that mandatory life prison sentences for juveniles were unconstitutional.
 
   Bustamante's new attorney is citing that case as a reason to undo the plea agreement.
Published in Local News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Special Olympics Missouri is raising funds as it considers moving its headquarters and athletic training facility to a new site in Columbia.
 
The Columbia Daily Tribune reports if the project is successful, the Training for Life Campus would be the first statewide athletic training campus for people with intellectual disabilities.
 
Special Olympics Missouri has not made a decision but is considering building at the Central Missouri Events Center at the Boone County fairground. It also would move its headquarters from Jefferson City.
 
The Missouri Development Finance Board approved a tax-incentive program that will allow donors to use $1.75 million in tax credits toward the project.
 
The capital campaign's goal is $12.5 million. Supporters envision a facility for year-round training and health screenings for about 17,000 athletes, coaches and volunteers.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A Missouri House committee is considering legislation to offer additional financial assistance to persuade more top students to stay in the state after graduation day.
 
The legislation would add a forgivable loan of up to $5,000 per academic year to Missouri's Bright Flight scholarship. Each year a student works in Missouri after school would count toward one year of loan forgiveness. Leaving before the loan is repaid would require repaying the loan with interest.
 
Republican House member Mike Thomson, of Maryville, says too many top Missouri students leave. Bright Flight scholarships are awarded based on ACT or SAT scores. The legislation was examined Tuesday by the House Higher Education Committee.
 
Gov. Jay Nixon has proposed $17 million in next year's budget for a Bright Flight loan program.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Two alternative plans are expected to emerge from a Missouri House committee that has been looking at potential income tax cuts.
 
The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote Tuesday evening on the legislation.
 
One plan would gradually reduce Missouri's top individual income tax rate from 6 percent to 5.3 percent. It also would phase in a 50 percent deduction for business income reported on individual tax returns. And it would increase the current tax deduction for lower-income individuals.
 
The other plan targets only businesses. It includes a similar business income deduction, as well as a gradual 50 percent reduction in Missouri's corporate income tax rate.
 
Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed an income tax cut last year and has again emphasized concerns about the effect on education funding.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - As Missouri prepares to execute its third inmate in three months, a state senator wants to change the state's execution process.
 
Senate Democratic Leader Jolie Justus introduced legislation Tuesday that would create an 11-member commission responsible for setting the state's execution procedure. She says ongoing lawsuits and secrecy about the state's current lethal injection method should drive a change in protocol.
 
Missouri had used a three-drug cocktail for executions, but it threw out the process after it could no longer obtain the drugs. The state ultimately switched to a form of pentobarbital made by a compounding pharmacy, though it refuses to reveal its origins.
 
Missouri is scheduled to execute Herbert Smullsat 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. Smulls was convicted of killing a St. Louis County jeweler in 1991.
 
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri prosecutors are organizing a campaign on behalf of a proposed constitutional amendment they say will help convict people who commit repeated sex offenses against children.
 
Prosecutors announced the formation Monday of the Protect Missouri Children committee to lead the campaign for the November ballot issue.
 
The proposal would allow evidence of past crimes to be used in prosecuting defendants accused of sex offenses against people younger than 18.
 
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says Missouri currently has the nation's most restrictive rules on citing evidence of past child sex crimes against people facing new charges.
 
Zahnd is a co-chairman of the new campaign committee. He says the group plans to appeal to voters through mail, radio ads and potentially TV ads.
Published in Local News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri prosecutors are organizing a campaign on behalf of a proposed constitutional amendment they say will help convict people who commit repeated sex offenses against children.
 
Prosecutors announced the formation Monday of the Protect Missouri Children committee to lead the campaign for the November ballot issue.
 
The proposal would allow evidence of past crimes to be used in prosecuting defendants accused of sex offenses against people younger than 18.
 
Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd says Missouri currently has the nation's most restrictive rules on citing evidence of past child sex crimes against people facing new charges.
 
Zahnd is a co-chairman of the new campaign committee. He says the group plans to appeal to voters through mail, radio ads and potentially TV ads.
Published in Local News

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri is going to begin picking up the tab for students to take the ACT college entrance exam and dramatically reduce the amount of time some elementary and middle school students spend taking state assessments.

When the changes take effect next school year, Missouri will join more than a dozen states that already offer the ACT test to all their students. Missouri plans to offer the test once, free of charge to high school juniors.

Elementary and middle school students also will see changes as the state switches to new assessments tied to the Common Core standards for math and reading. Students in third, fourth, sixth and seventh grades will take a one-hour version of the test. Only fifth- and eighth-graders will take a longer seven-hour version.

Published in Local News

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