Death Row Audio

In the late ’90s I created a website called A Missourinet reporter had served as a witness (while covering) of every execution going back to 1989. There was no death row website because a) the web was still pretty new at the time and b) the Missouri Department of Corrections went to some lengths to avoid the term “death row,” even though prisoners sentenced to — and awaiting — execution were housed together.

At each execution, a packet of information was handed out to reporters and a stack of those were gathering dust in the Missourinet newsroom. News Director Bob Priddy and I began putting that information online and it quickly became the de facto site for information about capital punishment in Missouri. I maintained the site until I retired in 2012.

The site included a page with some of the history of capital punishment, including audio recorded by Missourinet reporters. As of this writing (September 22, 2016), much of that audio is no longer available on the site. What I could still find and salvage is below.

  • Interview with Michael Taylor’s family following stay of execution [AUDIO: mp3] — The Missourinet’s Bob Priddy and the AP’s Cheryl Wittnauer interviewed four members of Michael Taylor’s family Wednesday night after Taylor’s execution was stayed by the Eighth District U.S. Court of Appeals. 2/1/06 23 min
  • Reports from Thomas Battle execution 8/7/96 [AUDIO: mp3] 3 min. — Missourinet reporter Julie Anderson covered the execution of Thomas Battle and filed these reports.
  • Press briefings from Larry Griffen execution 6/21/95 [AUDIO: mp3] 16 min — Missourinet reporter Julie Anderson covered the execution of Larry Griffen in 1995 and recorded the pre and post-execution news briefings. The audio has been slightly edited to eliminate some pauses but no content has been changed. Reporter questions which were asked off-mic have been amplified to make them audible. The first minute of audio is Corrections Department spokesman Tim Kniest announcing the execution would go ahead after the appeals which caused it to be delayed had been exhausted. The rest of the material is the post-execution press conference. The Corrections Department employees heard are Kniest, Corrections Director Dora Shriro, and George Lombardi, the director of adult institutions.
  • Julie Anderson report of Griffen’s final hours [AUDIO: mp3] while his last appeals were being considered. 30 sec MP3
  • Witness to an Execution is Bob Priddy’s audio journal of the execution of Donald Jones early in the morning of April 27, 2005. The journal follows Bob as he leaves his motel in Bonne Terre to go to the prison and ends as he prepares to leave the prison about two and a half hours later. 4/27/05 [AUDIO: mp3] 29 min
  • Former prison caseworker remembers first execution of a woman. 12/19/03 [AUDIO: mp3] 11 min — Half a century ago, radios throughout the country were broadcasting the news that a woman had died in Missouri’s gas chamber….the first—and so far, the only–woman ever executed in a state prison. Bonnie Brown Heady of St. Joseph and her lover Carl Hall had been convicted less than a month earlier of the kidnapping and murder of a little Kansas City boy, Bobby Greenlease.
  • News conference following the execution of John Clayton Smith 10/29/03 [AUDIO: mp3] 15 min — The first person speaking is Bridie Brooks, the sister of Brandi Kearns, the woman murdered on July 5th, 1997, for which John Clayton Smith was executed. Later in the news conference Scott Hoewing, the oldest son of Wayne Hoewing, also murdered that night, and his sister Amy Hoewing Bringer.
  • Daniel Basile execution 8/14/02
    • Post-execution media briefing by Missouri Corrections Director Gary Kempker. [AUDIO: mp3] 2 min
    • Statement by Jim Vaniseghem of St. Louis, oldest brother of murder victim Elizabeth DeCaro.  [AUDIO: mp3]
    • Interview with friends and family of Daniel Basile following his execution.  [AUDIO: mp3] 15 min They talked to reporters from the Missourinet and the Associated Press at a gas station in Potosi. Participants included: Dennis Watson, the grandfather of Basile’s nine-year old daughter; Lisa Owsley, Wentzville, longtime friend of Daniel Basile; Julie Ferranto, St.Louis, niece of Basile; Terra Murray, St. Charles, sister of Daniel Basile; Desiree Trousdale, Jackson, sister of Daniel Basile; Captain Jeff Militti, army chaplain who was Basile’s spiritual advisor, whose mother often took care of Basile when he was a child. Militti is at home on emergency leave from South Korea. Also heard briefly is Tina Addison, mother of Basile’s daughter.
  • News conference by Cathleen Burnett. 7/1/02 [AUDIO: mp3] 16 min — Cathleen Burnett, associate professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, has written a book entitled Justice Denied: Clemency Appeals in Death Penalty Cases. The book examines 50 applications for executive clemency submitted to Missouri governors since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1977. Burnett, who opposes the death penalty, claims her examination discloses errors in Missouri’s application of capital punishment and a misperception that the final appeal to the governor can make up for mistakes.
  • News conference with Sister Helen Prejean [Audio 11 min] — Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking, brought her crusade against the death penalty to the State Capitol in Jefferson City on April 3rd. Sister Prejean spoke to reporters, then took part in a rally against capital punishment. Sister Helen says that while she is against the death penalty altogether, she is particularly concerned with the death penalty being applied to the mentally retarded. She is supporting legislative efforts to limit capital punishment. Sister Helen says ending capital punishment against the retarded would at least be a step in the right direction.
  • George C. “Tiny” Mercer news conference [AUDIO: mp3] 22 min — Mercer was executed on January 6, 1989.
  • George C. Gilmore execution (Missourinet report by Bob Priddy) [AUDIO: mp3] 8/31/90 — Including excerpts of interview with Gilmore.
  • Interview with Mose Young 7/12/00 [AUDIO: mp3] — Missourinet Managing Editor Brent Martin spoke with Moses Young by phone following the stay of his execution on July 12, 2000. Young called from his holding cell and at the time of the interview did not know whether his execution would be carried out.
  • News conference following execution of James Hampton 3/22/00 [AUDIO: mp3] — Members of Frances Keaton’s family witnessed the execution of James Hampton and spoke to the media. First to speak are LaVon Bowlin (Keaton’s daughter) of Smithton, Illinois, and her husband Carl. Then, Les Keaton (son) of Florissant speaks. Statement by Department of Corrections spokesman Tim Kniest, following the execution.
  • Death Penalty Commission 2/23/00 [AUDIO: mp3] 34 min — Hearing before the Missouri House Criminal Law Committee to hear testimony on HB 1887. This bill would have placed a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty from August 28, 2000, until January 1, 2003, during which time a commission on the death penalty, created by the bill, is to study all aspects of the death penalty in Missouri. Click here to listen to the full hearing before the commission.