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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.
A quirk of the calendar put Thursday night's City Council meeting on the five year anniversary of the Kirkwood City Hall shootings.
Before the meeting people gathered outside city hall and held hands. Church bells tolled seven times -- once for each of the six victims, and the shooter.
The massacre on February 7th, 2008 had claimed the lives Mayor Mike Swoboda ((swuh-BOH-duh)), council members Connie Karr and Michael Lynch, Public Works Director Ken Yost ((YOHST)), Police Sergeant William Biggs and Officer Tom Ballman. The shooter, Charles "Cookie" Thornton was also killed.
Last night's council meeting began with a simple commemoration. Mayor Arthur McDonnell read the names of the victims, and offered a prayer. A moment of silence followed, then it was business as usual.
On February 7th, 2008, disgruntled Kirkwood resident Charles "Cookie" Thornton gunned down six public servants during a city council meeting before being shot and killed by police.
Two police officers, two council members and the city's public works director also died that night. Several months later, Kirkwood Mayor Mike Swoboda died from his injuries.
Thornton, a Meecham Park resident, had reportedly been upset because his company was denied the contract on a development in his neighborhood. Thornton had accused city leaders of bias in the racially divided city.
Since the shootings, several community groups have worked to try to bridge the divide.
There are no plans for a formal commemoration at tonight's city council meeting. Instead, Mayor Arthur McDonnell says they'll take a moment to remember the fallen at the end of the meeting.