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Missouri Executes Inmate for 1998 Killing Over Child Support

Lawyers for Andre Cole said he was mentally unfit for execution and should be given a competency hearing, and raised issue with the all-white jury.
/ Source: NBC News

A Missouri inmate was executed Tuesday night for killing a man in a fit of rage over child support payments 16 years ago.

Andre Cole, 52, became the third convicted killer put to death this year in Missouri. His fate was sealed after the U.S. Supreme Court turned down several appeals, including one claiming Cole was mentally ill and unfit for execution.

Mike O'Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, said Cole was executed by lethal injection at 10:15 p.m. and pronounced dead nine minutes later. He chose not to make a final statement.

Also Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon refused a clemency petition that raised concerns about the fact that Cole, who was black, was convicted and sentenced by an all-white jury.

Cole and his wife, Terri, were married for 11 years and had two children before divorcing in 1995. The couple fought about visitation and he was upset about child support payments, authorities said.

By 1998, Cole was $3,000 behind in child support. Attorney General Chris Koster said Cole became angry when he learned that a payroll withholding order was issued to his employer, taking the money out of his check. "Before I give her another dime, I'll kill (her)," Cole told co-workers, according to Koster.

The first deduction appeared on his Aug. 21, 1998, paycheck. Hours later, Cole forced his way into his ex-wife's home by throwing a tire jack through a glass door, Koster said. He was confronted by Anthony Curtis, a friend who was visiting. Andre Cole used a kitchen knife to repeatedly stab Curtis, then Terri Cole. Curtis died but Terri Cole survived.

Cole's attorney argued that Cole was mentally unfit to be executed and was plagued by psychosis and constantly heard voices in his head. The courts were not convinced.

Both the Missouri Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to halt the execution based on mental health concerns. The U.S. Supreme Court also turned away appeals based on Missouri's secretive method of obtaining the execution drug pentobarbital and over how instructions were given to the jury.


— The Associated Press