A Missouri man whose death sentence was overturned three times before being reinstated is now scheduled to die in May for killing a small-town couple nearly 26 years ago.
The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday set a May 3 execution date for Carman Deck. Executions in Missouri are carried out at the prison in Bonne Terre.
James and Zelma Long were fatally shot during a robbery inside their home in De Soto, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southwest of St. Louis, in July 1996. Deck confessed to the killings and was sentenced to death in 1998. The Missouri Supreme Court threw out the sentence due to errors by Deck's trial lawyer.
After he was sentenced a second time, the U.S. Supreme Court tossed that sentence in 2005, citing the prejudice caused by Deck being shackled in front of the sentencing jury.
He was sentenced to death for a third time in 2008. In 2017, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry determined that "substantial" evidence arguing against the death penalty in Deck’s first two penalty phases was unavailable for the third because witnesses had died, couldn’t be found or declined to cooperate.
In October 2020, a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored the death penalty, ruling that Deck should have raised his concern first in state court, not federal court.
Court records said Deck and his sister went to the Long home under the guise of asking for directions, but with the intent to rob them. Deck pulled a pistol from his waistband and ordered them to lie facedown on their bed. He shot them in the head.
Prosecutors said Deck later gave a full account of the killings in oral, written and audio taped statements.
Only 11 people were executed in the U.S. last year, the fewest since 1988. Among them was Ernest Lee Johnson, who was put to death in Missouri in October for killing three Columbia convenience store workers in 1994.