Maurice Byrd Executed For 4 Missouri Murders

Maurice Byrd Executed For 4 Missouri Murders

Maurice Byrd was executed by the State of Missouri for four murders

According to court documents Maurice Byrd would rob the Pope’s Cafeteria in the West County Shopping Mall. In the process of the armed robbery he would shoot and kill three employees and shoot another employee who would die later in the hospital. James Wood, 51; Carolyn Turner, 51; Edna Ince, 68; and Judy Cazaco, 37

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Maurice Byrd Photos

Maurice Byrd - Missouri

Maurice Byrd Case

Maurice Oscar Byrd, convicted of killing four cafeteria workers, including one who had an eye shot out, was executed early Friday at a Missouri state prison by injection.

Technicians at the Potosi Correctional Center, about 60 miles southwest of St. Louis, administered the lethal dose of drugs at 12:04 a.m., said Dale Riley, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections. Byrd lost consciousness within two minutes, Riley said, and was pronounced dead by prison doctors at 12:13 a.m

Byrd, 37, answered ‘no’ when asked if he wanted to make a final statement to official witnesses, and did not struggle during the procedure, Riley said.

‘He showed no resistance on his escort from the isolation room to the execution room,’ the prison spokesman said. ‘He showed no resistance on the gurney.’

Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft, who had rejected appeals from death- penalty opponents to commute Byrd’s sentence, issued a statement after the execution

‘Justice has been served,’ Ashcroft said. ‘This regrettable event is necessary to reaffirm the value the state of Missouri places on innocent human life.’

Ashcroft extended his sympathies to Byrd’s family, but said, ‘We must never forget’ the suffering of relatives of the victims.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Byrd’s final appeal about 9 p.m. Thursday, and Ashcroft also refused to intervene.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis turned down several requests for stays this week, although Chief Judge Donald Lay said the court should consider whether the black inmate might have been discriminated against by an all-white jury. Lay was out-voted by the rest of the court.

Byrd was sentenced to die in 1982 for killing four workers at a Pope’s Cafeteria in suburban St. Louis.

Byrd became the sixth person executed in Missouri since the death penalty was reinstated three years ago. Seventy-six people remain on Missouri’s death row.

Byrd awaited his fate in an isolation cell where he has been held since Aug. 14, watching television, receiving visits from family members and going over funeral arrangements, Riley said.

Maurice Byrd shared a last meal of bacon, lobster, shrimp fried rice and chicken breast with his family, Riley said. The spokesman said the family members then left, and Byrd requested no personal witnesses to his execution

‘Mr. Byrd did not want any witnesses, and I think it was simply a mutual agreement between he and the family,’ Riley said.

A group of people opposed to the death penalty held a candlelight vigil outside the prison gates.

Byrd’s attorneys had asked the Supreme Court to consider what they said was new evidence that might show black jurors were deliberately excluded from hearing the trial.

Maurice Byrd was convicted of killing the cafeteria employees during an October 1980 robbery that netted about $9,000. All of the victims — James Wood, 51; Carolyn Turner, 51; Edna Ince, 68; and Judy Cazaco, 37 — were shot in the head. One was shot once in each eye.

Testimony at Byrd’s trial revealed he once said he preferred to shoot his victims in the eyes so they would be unable to identify him if they survived.

Maurice Byrd was convicted despite a lack of physical evidence linking him to the crime. Police collected most of the information connecting him to the killings from conversations he had with fellow prisoners in a Georgia jail. Byrd was convicted of murder in the slaying of a liquor store employee in Georgia after the Missouri killings.

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