FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) - The 81-year-old victim was raped and murdered nearly 30 years ago, but Monday night, the Midwest Innocence Project and about 5,000 people who signed a petition are asking the governor for a little extra time.
Walter Barton is scheduled to die Tuesday night. What he’s accused of is nightmarish to even think about.
It happened in 1991 in Ozark, Missouri. 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler was raped and murdered. The killer cut her throat and stabbed her dozens of times.
Barton was one of three people that found Kuehler and he says that’s how spatters of her blood got onto his shirt. Prosecutors say her blood got there when he killed her.
“The real question is what went right for Mr. Barton and the answer is still nothing,” Midwest Innocence Project Executive Director Tricia Rojo Bushnell said.
Bushnell says Barton’s case 100% deserves another look. Barton was convicted after going on trial five times. There were several issues at each trial including prosecutorial misconduct and once, a hung jury.
The jurors that eventually convicted him were recently presented new evidence on blood spatter and several of them now say if they’d seen that evidence, they would not have agreed to the death penalty.
“Certainly, there is no reliable evidence for a conviction let alone the execution of someone,” Bushnell said.
Aside from the blood spatter, there was never any physical evidence linking Barton to the victim. Hair and fingernail scrapings were collected, none of them matched Barton.
Many claim if Barton was the killer, he would’ve had a lot more than a few specks of blood on his shirt.
The Midwest Innocence Project is asking Governor Parson not to say whether Barton is innocent or guilty, but for experts of his choosing to give the case another look to be sure Barton was treated fairly.
“We’re asking him to stay the execution and appoint a board of inquiry. This board, which would consist of whatever judges independent judges he wants, he would review the evidence and make a recommendation to Governor Parson about whether or not to use this clemency power to either commute the sentence or overturned the conviction,” Bushnell said.
From what Governor Parson said Monday, it appears that board of inquiry won’t happen. KCTV5 News has reached out to the Christian County Prosecutor’s Office for comment. At this point, we haven’t heard back.
Barton is scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday night.