Man facing execution for girl's 1989 kidnapping, rape, death - KCTV5 News


Missouri executes Roderick Nunley for Ann Harrison's 1989 killing

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This April 22, 2014 provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Roderick Nunley who is scheduled to die for raping and killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison in Kansas City in 1989. (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP) This April 22, 2014 provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Roderick Nunley who is scheduled to die for raping and killing 15-year-old Ann Harrison in Kansas City in 1989. (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP)

A man who spent nearly 25 years on Missouri's death row has been executed for the kidnapping, rape and stabbing death of a 15-year-old Kansas City girl.

Roderick Nunley, 50, died by injection Tuesday night. During the execution, his breathing became labored for a few seconds. He briefly opened his mouth before becoming still.

He was pronounced dead at 9:09 p.m. CDT.

Of 20 executions nationally in 2015, 10 have been in Texas and Nunley's makes the sixth death row inmate to be put to death in Missouri.

Bob and Janel Harrison, the parents of the young victim, released a statement afterwards, saying:

"For the last 26 years Janel and I have, on occasion, experienced a form of compassion for not only Roderick Nunley and Michael Taylor but especially their families. No one involved deserved the pain, suffering or anguish these two cowards have bestowed on this community. This feeling diminishes rapidly as our thoughts are uncontrollably diverted to the vision of Ann being dragged into the stolen car by her hair and stomped to the floor board in an attempt to hide her from sight as they transported her to Nunley’s home. Upon arrival at the home, she was made to crawl through the garage to an area where the true torture began, not only physical, but mental. They recounted in their confessions that while she was blindfolded they laughed as she pleaded for her life and how they stood over her and discussed that they had to kill her so she could not identify them. Ann was then lifted into the trunk of the stolen car as Nunley went to the kitchen to obtain the murder weapons. After attempting to slit her throat, only to find the kitchen knives were too dull, they elected to stab her repeatedly in the chest and back and shut the trunk lid, only to hear her sobbing and moaning in her final moments of life.

Will the execution of Roderick Nunley and Michael Taylor bring a sense of closure for us and our younger daughters?

We don’t know.

Will it put the heartbreak of reliving what they did to Ann during all the hearings, appeals and seemingly endless stalling attempts?

We certainly hope so.

If this is the only form of closure we receive, then we will gladly take it.

We want to express our deepest appreciation for all the support we have continuously received from our family, extended family, friends, Ann’s classmates, The Raytown Girls Softball League, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Governor Nixon, The Attorney General’s office, the Department of Corrections and especially to the officers and detectives of the KCPD who worked tirelessly to bring Ann’s killers to justice.

Finally, we wish to thank the many members of the media and press many of which have been at our side from the very morning Ann was taken. You have accepted the times when we were completely drained and just unable to speak to anyone. You allowed us the privacy we needed to work through the 26 years of grieving.  Thank you all."

"Despite openly admitting his guilt to the court, it has taken 25 years to get him to the execution chamber," Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said in a statement. "Nunley's case offers a textbook example showing why society is so frustrated with a system that has become too cumbersome."

Investigators say he and his co-defendant randomly targeted and kidnapped Ann Harrison, 15, as she waited outside her Kansas City home for the school bus in 1989. The girl was then raped and fatally stabbed.

The U.S. Supreme Court had said it wouldn't stop the scheduled execution and Gov. Jay Nixon denied his clemency petition. Both Nunley and his co-defendant in the case, Michael Taylor, were sentenced to death in 1991. Taylor was executed last year.

Nunley's attorney has three appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, including one that says the death penalty amounts to cruel and unusual punishment — an argument rebuffed by a detective with a 42-year career who helped break the case.

Retired Kansas City detective Pete Edlund said the only thing cruel and unusual is how long Nunley and Taylor remained on death row.

“A travesty,” he said. “I’m frustrated by the fact it’s taken so long and over ridiculous excuses to extend their time on death row.”

He said Nunley should have been put to death long ago.

"They just take forever to do the deed," Edlund told The Associated Press. "The delay in executing these two is just nuts because it didn't have anything to do with their guilt. It was legal mumbo jumbo nonsense."

To this day neighbor Deborah Bowen carries a picture of Ann and her sisters in her car. It’s there to remind her of the innocent girl down the street from her.

“I will never forget the girl, she was just a beautiful thing,” Bowen said. “My dad went to his grave knowing those two were still alive.”

The former detective is hoping, with Nunley’s execution, it will offer some sort of peace for Ann’s family.

“It has been a long time, justice delayed,” Edlund said.

The other two pending appeals take issue with Missouri's process of secretly acquiring its execution drug and argue that Nunley should have been sentenced by a jury, not a judge.

The clemency petition to Nixon, filed by death penalty opponents, alleges that racial bias played a role in the case because a prosecutor refused a plea deal that would have given Nunley life in prison without parole. Nunley is black, as was Taylor, while the victim was white.

According to prosecutors, Nunley and Taylor binged on cocaine and stole a car in the pre-dawn hours of March 22, 1989. At one point, a police officer from neighboring Lee's Summit chased the car but was called off by a supervisor when the stolen car crossed into Kansas City.

Later that morning, the men were driving around Kansas City when they saw Ann standing at the end of her driveway, waiting for a school bus. The girl's mother had stepped inside to get a younger daughter ready for school. When she heard the bus, she looked outside. The books and flute were still there, but Ann was gone.

Taylor and Nunley had quickly grabbed the 15-year-old girl and took her to Nunley's mother's home. She was raped and sodomized, then stabbed repeatedly in the stomach and neck.

Taylor and Nunley put the girl's body in the trunk of the stolen car, then abandoned it in a residential area. The body was found three days later.

Edlund said the case was cracked months later when a man in jail for robbery — and seeking a $10,000 reward in the case — turned in Taylor and Nunley. Both men confessed, and some of Ann's hair was found in carpeting at the home where the crime occurred.

Copyright 2015 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) and The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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