Missouri executed its fourth inmate in as many months today as the issue of capital punishment has sparked a new and reshaped political debate across the nation, Politico reports. The Midwestern state has become a key battleground: As lethal-injection drug supplies have been disrupted, states have been scrambling to adapt, and Missouri lawmakers from both sides of the aisle aren't happy with what they call excessive secrecy about the process and questions about whether sentences are being competently carried out.
Missouri's Democratic governor and attorney general are both pro-death penalty, while some bills challenging the executive's approach to executions are sponsored by Republicans who also back capital punishment. The execution shortly after midnight of Michael Taylor with a dose of pentobarbital for the rape and murder of a Kansas City high school student in 1989 will not put the issue to rest. Taylor's partner in crime awaits execution. “[Missouri] is sort of a ground zero,” said Death Penalty Information Center Executive Director Richard Dieter, an opponent of capital punishment. Virginia and Tennessee have both had bills introduced this year to return to electrocution if lethal injections can't be carried out.