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Missouri is ready to execute Leonard Taylor next week. He may be innocent

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A man with gray hair and glasses stares directly into the camera from behind a wall of glass.
Nick Wagner
The Kansas City Star
St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell says his office won't stop the execution of Leonard Taylor, pictured here.

Taylor would be the third person sentenced to death by the state in the last 10 weeks.

Leonard Taylor, a Missouri inmate on death row, is set to be executed by the state Feb. 7.

Taylor was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her three kids in St. Louis almost 20 years ago. But Taylor says he wasn’t in Missouri when the killings took place.

“The medical examiner initially said they had been killed about three days before the bodies were found. That changed at trial, to up to three weeks,” says Kansas City Star reporter Katie Moore.

Last month, Missouri executed the first openly transgender woman in the history of the United States for murdering her ex-girlfriend in 2003. On Nov. 29, 2022, Kevin Johnson Jr. was executed for the 2005 slaying of a police officer despite evidence of racist prosecution techniques.

Moore says Taylor’s case is different from recent executions because of his innocence claim.

Katie Moore joined Up To Date to talk about the scheduled execution of Leonard Taylor.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
As Up To Date’s senior producer, I construct daily conversations that give our listeners context to the issues of our time. I strive to provide a platform that holds those in power accountable, while also spotlighting the voices of Kansas City’s creatives and visionaries that may otherwise go unheard. Email me at zach@kcur.org.
Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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