Missouri Supreme Court rejects request from convicted killer, execution set for May 19

Walter Barton Mugshot

The Missouri Supreme Court has unanimously denied a request from a convicted murderer from southwest Missouri’s Ozark, clearing the way for his execution to take place next month in Bonne Terre.

The Supreme Court has denied 64-year-old Walter Barton’s petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is essentially a court order that demands that a warden deliver an incarcerated person to the court and show a valid reason for the inmate’s imprisonment.

Barton’s attorney, Frederick Duchardt Jr., filed court papers that say Barton is innocent and incompetent to be put to death.

Walter Barton
Convicted murderer Walter Barton is scheduled to be executed on May 19, 2020, in Bonne Terre

The Supreme Court rejected both arguments. They say Barton has not offered sufficient evidence to show actual innocence. The Supreme Court also found that Barton hasn’t shown that he experiences gross delusions which prevent him from understanding the meaning of the death sentence.

In February, the Missouri Supreme Court scheduled a May 19th execution date for Barton at the maximum-security prison in southeast Missouri’s Bonne Terre.

The case has been working its way through the court system for almost 30 years.

The “Springfield News-Leader” notes Barton was first convicted in 1994 and ended up having five trials because two convictions were overturned on appeal.

Barton was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1991 killing of 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler. She managed a mobile home park in the small town of Ozark, which is south of Springfield.

Court documents say Kuehler was stabbed more than 50 times, including 23 times in the back. Court documents indicate that her throat “had been cut from ear to ear.”

Barton will be executed by lethal injection in Bonne Terre unless a federal court intervenes. Barton and Counselor Duchardt could also seek clemency from Governor Mike Parson.

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Brian Hauswirth


Brian Hauswirth began as Missourinet news director in July 2016. He anchors daily newscasts, simulcasts and special reports from the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, where he primarily covers the Missouri House and numerous legislative committee hearings.