Missouri's First Execution of 2016

The state executed Earl Forrest on Wednesday night by lethal injection for a triple homicide in 2002.

Pat Sullivan / AP

Missouri executed Earl Forrest on Wednesday night by lethal injection, marking the state’s first execution in 2016.

A Missouri Department of Corrections spokesman said Forrest was executed at 7:10 p.m. local time at a state prison in Bonne Terre. He was pronounced dead eight minutes later.

Forrest received a death sentence in 2004 for the 2002 slayings of Harriet Smith, Michael Wells, and Dent County police officer JoAnn Barnes. St. Louis Public Radio has more details:

According to court documents, Forrest went to Smith's house to demand she buy a mobile home and a lawn mower for him, in exchange for his introducing her to someone who could provide her with methamphetamine. He fatally shot Wells in the face during the confrontation, then shot Smith six times, killing her.

Forrest later killed Deputy Barnes during a shootout at his home with law enforcement. He also shot his then-girlfriend, Angela Gamblin and Dent County Sheriff Bob Wofford during the standoff. Wofford and Gamblin survived.

In his final filing to the U.S. Supreme Court, Forrest challenged his death sentence as a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishments. The petition cited Justice Stephen Breyer’s lengthy dissent last year in Glossip v. Gross urging the court to reconsider the death penalty’s constitutionality.

“The death penalty has outlived any conceivable purpose,” the filing stated. “It is imperfect in application, arbitrary in result, and serves no legitimate penological purpose.”

Missouri officials stood by Forrest’s death sentence. “Earl Forrest callously murdered three people, including a deputy sheriff, over a box of methamphetamine,” Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement after the execution. “Missouri’s law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day.  They need to know that we will fight just as hard for justice for them and their families.”

The U.S. Supreme Court denied the last-minute request for a stay of execution on Wednesday with no recorded dissents. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon also issued a statement declining to grant clemency to Forrest hours before the scheduled execution.

Forrest was the 14th person to be executed in the U.S. this year and the 1,436th person executed since the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976.