Archive for Thursday, March 12, 1998

KANSAS PREPARES FOR EXECUTION

March 12, 1998

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Although the Legislature has specified that executions will be carried out by lethal injection, the Department of Corrections hasn't established a set of protocols specifically outlining how the procedure will be done.

Gary Kleypas, the first person to receive the death penalty since it was reinstated in Kansas in 1994, won't be staying on ``death row.''

Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Bill Miskell said inmates sentenced to death will stay in an administrative segregation unit at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. Inmates there are allowed out of their cells a total of five hours a week.

``The specific protocols haven't been written or adopted. We're still in the process of finalizing them,'' Miskell said. ``We have observed the protocols in other states, and we're still collecting information.''

Kleypas' death sentence is automatically appealed in Kansas.

George York and James Latham, hanged on June 22, 1965, were the last people to be executed in Kansas. They were accused of killing seven people in five states during a crime spree stretching from Florida to Colorado.

Another prisoner was awaiting execution when the U.S. Supreme Court declared capital punishment unconstitutional. But in 1976 the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty.

Kleypas, 42, was convicted July 25 of fatally stabbing Carrie Williams, a Parsons native. She was killed in her Pittsburg apartment on March 30, 1996.

Prosecutors have claimed there are three aggravating circumstances in the Kleypas case that warrant the death penalty -- a previous conviction for a felony with great bodily harm; a crime committed to avoid arrest or prosecution; and a crime committed in an atrocious or cruel manner.

But defense attorneys have said several mitigating circumstances -- including mental illness, organic brain damage, remorsefulness, emotional disturbance, intoxication and family genetic disorders -- warranted a life prison term for Kleypas.

Kleypas served 15 years of a 30-year sentence for killing a 78-year-old neighbor in Galena, Mo., and was released from prison in Missouri in 1992, four years before he killed Williams. He was a nursing student at Pittsburg State when Williams was killed.

Two days after the killing, Kleypas was arrested at a Springfield, Mo., motel, where he had slashed his neck, wrists and ankle in a suicide attempt. Tests later showed he had taken cocaine.

During the trial, the prosecution presented a videotaped confession in which Kleypas said he killed Williams because he did not know what to do after sexually assaulting her.

Executions will be carried out by lethal injection at the Lansing Correctional Facility. The fourth floor of a former administrative building is being renovated to house the execution area, which should be completed within six months, Miskell said.

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