- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 9, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Supreme Court says prison officials had no grounds to attempt to bar a co-defendant from witnessing an execution.

The court’s written opinion released Tuesday elaborates on the reasons why it had issued a Nov. 18 order requiring prison officials to allow Willie Owens to witness the execution of his half-brother Leon Taylor.

Owens had pleaded guilty to participating in a 1994 Independence gas station robbery with Taylor and cooperated with prosecutors to testify against Taylor for the shooting death of worker Robert Newton.

The Supreme Court said Missouri’s law allowing condemned inmates to have witnesses present for their executions only excludes people who are incarcerated or younger than 21. Owens was neither of those.

A prison spokesman said Owens ultimately decided not to witness Taylor’s Nov. 19 execution.

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