Catholic Mobilizing Network Condemns Missouri Execution Amid Pandemic
(Washington, DC) The state of Missouri executed Walter Barton Tuesday, in what became the first execution in the United States since the global declaration of the coronavirus pandemic. In that time, three states have stayed or rescheduled a total of eight executions, many citing concerns of COVID-19 infection.
“Our nation has gone to great lengths to save lives and prevent unnecessary loss of life during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Krisanne Vaillancourt Murphy, Executive Director of Catholic Mobilizing Network, the national Catholic organization working to end the death penalty and promote restorative justice. “It’s tragically contradictory that Missouri put a man to death amidst the herculean efforts we see daily to protect life. This execution was wrong-headed and unconscionable.”
Mr. Barton’s execution went forward despite his strong claim of innocence. His conviction for the 1991 murder of 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler followed five trials and two overturned convictions, and was largely based on the testimony of an unreliable jailhouse informat and the use of bloodstain pattern analysis—a forensic method with questionable validity.
“The Catholic Church teaches that every human life is endowed with an inalienable dignity,” said Vaillancourt Murphy. “Today, as we mourn the unnecessary loss of Walter Barton, we cannot ignore the stark inconsistencies in how society views some lives as valuable, and others as worthless.”
Catholic Mobilizing Network is a national organization that mobilizes Catholics and all people of goodwill to value life over death, to end the death penalty, to transform the U.S. criminal justice system from punitive to restorative, and to build capacity in U.S. society to engage in restorative practices.
CMN works in close collaboration with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops andis a founding member of the Congregation of St. Joseph Mission Network.