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Clemency denied; Lingar put to death
February 7, 2001
Lingar was put to death by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. today. It was the first execution in Missouri since Holden’s inauguration.
“After a complete review of the case, Gov. Holden decided there was no reason to set aside the death sentence,” said Jerry Nachtigal, a spokesman for Holden.
Holden met with legal advisers to review the case periodically throughout the day and deliberated in the Governor’s Mansion from 6 p.m. until the late evening with chief legal counsel Glenn Norton.
Holden notified the families of Lingar and the victims before making a formal announcement of his decision at 11 p.m.
Spokesman Jerry Nachtigal said Holden would review all the aspects in the case and make his decision after hearing all the facts. Deciding death penalty cases is a hard responsibility to carry as governor, Nachtigal said.
“It’s a decision that no governor takes lightly,” Nachtigal said.
Lingar was convicted for the 1985 murder of 16-year-old Thomas Allen. Lingar and his co-defendant, David Smith, reportedly shot and beat Allen after picking him up on the side of the road.
Smith pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against Lingar in exchange for a reduced sentence. Smith testified that he was only an accomplice and that Lingar killed Allen.
Kent Gipson, Lingar’s attorney, filed several appeals in the case, saying that Lingar is borderline mentally retarded, had ineffective counsel during trial, and was a victim of discrimination based on his sexual orientation. A final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected yesterday afternoon.
Gipson said Lingar’s original attorney mishandled the three-day trial by failing to cross-examine witnesses or present much of a defense. Gipson also questioned the credibility of Smith, saying that he had a motive to point to Lingar as the murderer in exchange for a shortened sentence.
Smith served six years for the murder before being paroled in 1991.
Gipson also raised the issue that Lingar’s sexual orientation was inappropriately raised during the sentencing phase of the trial. He said prosecutors tried to demonize Lingar to the rural Farmington jury by presenting evidence that he had a homosexual relationship with Smith.
“I think it’s pretty offensive that sexual preference can be used as an aggravating factor,” Gipson said.
Rep. Bill Boucher, D-Kansas City, asked the governor to grant Lingar’s clemency request, saying that it takes courage to do the right thing. Boucher, who is sponsoring a bill to exempt the mentally retarded from the death penalty, questioned why Holden would approve the execution of a mentally retarded defendant.
“I would be very surprised if he campaigned on the issue that even if a person is mentally retarded, we’re still going to put them to death,” Boucher said.