Court gives local man a Feb. 9 execution date - KMOV.com

Court gives local man a Feb. 9 execution date

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The state Supreme Court on Friday set an execution date for a 47-year-old Missouri man convicted in the 1991 death of an 11-year-old St. Louis girl.

The court scheduled Martin Link's execution for 12:01 a.m. Feb. 9. Missouri has not had an execution since 2009, but another man, Richard Clay, is scheduled to die by injection on Wednesday at the state prison in Bonne Terre.

Like many of the 35 states that use lethal injection, Missouri has a dwindling supply of sodium thiopental, the first of three drugs used in executions. It is an anesthetic that renders the condemned inmate unconscious.

A report released Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union, based on an open records request to the state, showed Missouri has in stock about 50 units of sodium thiopental, and that the typical execution requires about 10 units. Missouri's stock has an expiration date of March 1.

Corrections spokesman Chris Cline said the state has an adequate supply of sodium thiopental for both executions.

Missouri has executed 67 men since the death penalty was reinstated in 1989, but just one over the past five years as the courts began considering whether the state's three-drug method could potentially violate the constitutional right against cruel and unusual punishment. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year cleared the way for executions to resume.

Link has been on death row for more than 15 years. His attorney, Jennifer Herndon, also represents Clay and five other death row inmates.

Herndon said she is hopeful a judge will halt Clay's execution based on concerns over the sodium thiopental shortage. If that happens, the execution of Link would also be postponed, she said.

She also plans to raise concerns over whether Link is mentally competent to be executed. Herndon said Link tried to kill himself while on death row.

Elissa Self disappeared on the morning of Jan. 11, 1991, as she was walking to her school bus stop in south St. Louis. Her body was found four days later along the St. Francis River, 135 miles south of St. Louis in Wayne County.

Later that month, police in suburban St. Louis tried to pull over Link for having a headlight out. He fled and crashed his car. Inside the car officers found petroleum jelly with flecks of blood.

Investigators said Link's DNA matched DNA found in sperm cells on vaginal swabs taken from Elissa's body and Elissa's DNA matched the DNA in the blood found in the petroleum jelly jar.

At his trial, Link sought to show that the DNA tests were faulty.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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