- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2003

POTOSI, Mo., Feb. 4 (UPI) — Gov. Bob Holden Tuesday considered a last-minute clemency request for Kenneth Kenley, scheduled to become the first person to be executed in Missouri this year.

Kenley was scheduled to die at the Potosi Correctional Center at midnight for a 24-hour crime spree that left two people dead.

Kenley, 42, committed a series of robberies in Missouri and Arkansas Jan. 3-4, 1984, to gain money for drugs, including a break-in at a sporting goods store where he obtained his weapons.

Kenley robbed or attempted to rob a food mart, a tavern, a package store and a motel, repeatedly threatening his victims by saying, "I've already killed once tonight." Prosecutors said he later stabbed a fellow inmate who was handcuffed and once took a prison librarian hostage.

He was convicted of the Jan. 3, 1984, murder of a shopper who had wandered into a store he was robbing in Poplar Bluff. Kenley ordered the woman to lie on the floor then to accompany him to his car when he left. She was shot in the back trying to flee the vehicle after performing fellatio on Kenley. Thirty minutes later, Kenley entered another store and killed one of the eight people inside when they didn't respond quickly enough to his order to lie on the floor.

Kenley's appeals have centered on the competence of his attorneys and whether he is brain damaged. His death sentence initially was overturned in 1991, the appellate court ruling his inexperienced attorney had done a poor job of defending him. However, a second jury re-sentenced him to death.

Missouri has executed 59 prisoners since 1989.

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