Clemency for Walter "Arkie" Barton #SaveArkie

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MAY 20, 2020 — 

Dear Friends,

We are deeply saddened and disturbed by the inaction of our state and federal government that led to the execution of Walter "Arkie" Barton yesterday, May 19th, 2020. 

Thank you to all who were able to participate in the online vigil for Arkie, as well as those who held vigil with us in various ways across the world. To the many who signed and shared our petition, we know that your voices made an impact in bringing awareness to Arkie's case.

For more information and ways to stay involved with Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty please visit www.madpmo.org

Thank you,

Lauren Sobchak, Organizer, MADP

 

Information below was previously posted, MAY 19th, 2020:

Friends,

Thank you for your calls, letters, and emails to Governor Parson to stop the execution of Walter Barton. Tens of thousands of Missourians have taken action, even while at home, to urge the Governor to stop this execution.

While we wait for the United State Supreme Court’s decision, and hopefully the sound mind and spirit of the Governor, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty invites you to an Online Vigil or Celebration of Life for Walter “Arkie” Barton and all victims of the death penalty on May 19th, at 5PM CST. As we hold vigil on this day, we honor the lives of those lost to violence, and all victims of the death penalty.


To attend, please go to www.facebook.com/madpmo/ to view the live feed on May 19th, 5PM CST. You can also join on Zoom using this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81581796961?pwd=NDF6bloyQURkNDhZeWV6aHNyNTR2QT09

Password: 227903

Speakers and Moderators include:

Abe Bonowitz, Director, Death Penalty Action

Jude Huntz, Board Chair, Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Nimrod Chapel, Director, Missouri State Conference of the NAACP

Shane Claiborn, Red Letter Christians

And many others...

Thank you for all you are doing in this fight to #SaveArkie. This event will take place whether or not the execution of Walter Barton goes forward and we will be holding space for all victims of the death penalty and the lives lost to mass incarceration in Missouri and beyond. We appreciate all of you in our shared struggle for peace as we work to abolish the death penalty. 


Sincerely,

Elyse Max, State Director, MADP

Lauren Sobchak, Organizer, MADP

Information posted below was previously published in Feb. 2020.

On Tuesday, February 19, 2020 the State of Missouri issued an execution warrant for Walter “Arkie” Barton. His execution is set for May 19th, 2020. We are asking you to sign this petition to spare his life and ask Governor Parson to grant clemency.     

Barton was convicted and sentenced to death for killing an 81-year-old mobile home park operator, Gladys Kuehler, in the town of Ozark in 1991. Over the 25 year history of the case, Barton has been granted several changes of venue.  There have been two mistrials, a trial and conviction, followed by a reversal and remand by the Missouri Supreme Court. The second trial ended in conviction which was upheld by the Supreme Court but later thrown out by a lower court. Barton's fifth and latest trial was held in Cass County, where the jury also found him guilty and recommended the death penalty. During his final appeal in 2006, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled 4 to 3 to uphold his death sentence. In a dissent, Justice Wolff wrote, “Even if the evidence were strong enough to support a conviction, it may not have been enough to warrant the death penalty.” His attorney is basing the  clemency appeal for Walter Barton on two grounds; an innocence claim, and lack of competence to be executed. 

Walter Barton’s Innocence Claim

According to Walter’s Attorney, Fred Duchardt, Barton was well liked by Ms. Kuehler and her family. Walter was at the scene of the crime when police and family got there to identify the body. During this process Walter ended up with a small blood splatter on the front of his shirt. During the trial, the prosecution brought forward a blood splatter expert that concluded that the blood on Walter’s shirt was enough to convict him for murder. However, the defense never brought forward a blood splatter expert to showcase that it could not have been Walter Barton as Ms. Kuehler was stabbed over 50 times creating a significant amount of blood loss and splatter evidence at the scene. 

In addition to the blood spatter evidence, three of the four witnesses that were brought forward to issue statements against Walter have recanted their statements. One of the witnesses who did not recant was incarcerated at the time and entered into a quid pro quo to have charges dismissed in return for their testimony against Walter.

Lack of Competency Claim

Walter Barton has been under psychiatric care since 2015. His attorney argues that he has never been competent due to a brain injury and his case meets the standards for not competent to execute. Walter is currently in solitary confinement and is confined to a wheelchair. 

In Conclusion

The death penalty is rife with errors and inconsistencies and has a steep cost financially, and to human life. State governments are not perfect and due to this innocent people are convicted and some even executed by the State. In a statement from Arkie’s attorney, he says “the state of Missouri is about to prove why the death penalty should not be used because they are about to execute an innocent man.” Many Missourians do not support the death penalty, especially under the circumstances of innocence. 

Today we are asking you to stand up for justice, sign the petition, and ask Governor Parson to grant clemency to Walter Barton.