ST. LOUIS (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court has affirmed the conviction of a southeast Missouri man who was sentenced to death for the ambush killing of a state trooper in 2005.
Lance Shockley of the southeast Missouri town of Van Buren was convicted of first-degree murder for killing Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Carl Dewayne Graham Jr., who was shot in the back of the head just as he had returned home from work. Graham had been investigating Shockley for a fatal traffic accident.
Shockley has been on death row since 2009. His appeal cited a litany of alleged procedural errors at trial, claimed a juror was tainted and said the sentence didn't fit the crime. The Supreme Court disagreed in a unanimous ruling.
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) - A wave of school transfers spurred by a recent Missouri Supreme Court ruling is opening old wounds and reviving difficult conversations in St. Louis about race, class and equal access to public education.
Nearly 2,600 students from the unaccredited Normandy and Riverview Gardens districts are leaving for better-performing schools in other districts, with the two troubled districts required to pay an estimated $30 million to accommodate the moves. School leaders say it's only a matter of time before they go bankrupt.
Parents, politicians and community leaders in some outlying districts say they worry the newcomers will bring increased delinquency, larger class sizes and lower test scores. Much of the outrage was on display last month at public school board meeting of the Francis Howell district, which begins classes on Thursday.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - A U.S. Supreme Court decision about federal benefits for gay couples has prompted the Missouri Supreme Court to take a second look at a pending case.
The state's high court heard arguments in February on a challenge to a Missouri law that denied survivor benefits to the same-sex partner of a Highway Patrol officer who died in the line of duty.
In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that that barred legally married same-sex couples from receiving benefits from the federal government.
The Missouri Supreme Court has asked attorneys involved in the Highway Patrol officer's case to submit additional written arguments in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. That could further delay a decision in the Missouri case.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the murder conviction of a death row inmate who shot a suburban St. Louis police officer.
The court's 5-2 decision yesterday dealt with Kevin Johnson. He was convicted of fatally shooting Kirkwood Police Sgt. Bill McEntee in 2005.
Johnson's current attorneys raised about a dozen claims that his original attorneys were ineffective. Among other things, they claimed the presence of numerous uniformed police in the courtroom and halls could have influenced jurors to find Johnson guilty.
Judge George Draper III rejected that argument in the Supreme Court's majority opinion.
But judges Patricia Breckenridge and Laura Denvir Stith dissented. They said Johnson's attorneys should have objected to the police presence, and he deserves a hearing on whether he got a fair trial.
Many parents in the Francis Howell School District say they're concerned about the impact of students from the unaccredited Normandy District transferring to their schools. Several sounded off at a town hall meeting Thursday night at Howell Central High School in Cottleville.
Some expresses concerns about resources being channeled to transferring students who are academically behind. Other's were concerned that about violence that may come to Francis Howell from Normandy, a district that has struggled with violence in its schools.
Francis Howell superintendent Dr. Pam Sloan spoke openly about her opposition to the transfers, saying that busing kids to a new district isn't the way to fix a failing one.
But not everyone in the district is so concerned. Francis Howell senior class president Eric Lee cautioned the crowd not to make assumptions about the students transferring in from Normandy. Lee said it's not right to assume the kids who choose to transfer are going to cause problems.
District officials won't know until August 2nd how many Normandy students plan to transfer.
Many parents in the unaccredited Riverview Gardens school district are unhappy after district officials announced they'll bus students to the Mehlville School District in order to comply with a Missouri Supreme Court ruling. The South County district is about 30 miles from the failing one in North County.
Parents aren't the only one's expressing concerns. Mehlville's superintendent says his district lacks the space for transferring students. Eric Knost says his district welcomes the transferring students, but warns that Mehville's classrooms are already at capacity.
Riverview officials say they're working to re-earn accreditation quickly and hope that parents will keep their kids enrolled there.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster wants the state Supreme Court to set execution dates for two inmates before the state's supply of an execution drug expires.
Koster has renewed a request for execution dates to be set for Allen Nicklasson and Joseph Franklin. The state's highest court refused to do so last August, citing a legal challenge to the state's newly planned use of the drug propofol as its execution method.
The attorney general's office said Monday that the Department of Corrections has a limited supply of propofol and much of it will expire next spring.
Nicklasson was convicted for the 1994 killing of a businessman traveling on Interstate 70 in Callaway County.
Franklin was convicted of killing a man outside a suburban St. Louis synagogue in 1977.
The Missouri Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of a state law requiring unaccredited school districts to pay for students to attend other nearby schools.
Tuesday's decision involves a specific family who contends the St. Louis Public School District should have footed the bill for their two children to attend Clayton schools. But the ruling could have implications for residents in other unaccredited districts.
The plaintiff, identified in court documents as John Doe 1631, had sued Quest Diagnostics and their Central West End clinical lab after the results of a 2006 blood test were faxed to the Wayman AME Church where the man worked at that time.
Quest had argued that the man had given permission to fax the results because the church's fax number appeared at the top of the doctor's order form. The fax apparently sat in plain view in the church office for several days because the plaintiff was on vacation when it arrived.
He's seeking unspecified punitive damages and compensation for emotional distress.