Editor’s note: On Monday, Gov. Mike Parson on Monday declined clemency for a man who faces execution Tuesday evening for killing two jailers in an ill-fated effort to free someone else from a county jail.
“It’s despicable that two dedicated public servants were murdered in a failed attempt to help another criminal evade the law,” Parson, a Republican, said in a statement. “The state of Missouri will carry out Mr. Tisius’s sentences according to the Court’s order and deliver justice.”
However, the NY Times reported this weekend, “In an unusual step, six jurors, including two alternates, have said in sworn affidavits included in a clemency petition that they would be supportive or would not object if the governor of Missouri stepped in to commute the sentence to life imprisonment, rather than death. It is rare, experts said, to see so many jurors formally taking such a stand in a death penalty case.”
Letter to Governor Michael Parson
Dear Governor Parson,
We are writing today to request that you grant clemency to Mr. Michael Tisius, who is scheduled to be executed by the State of Missouri on Tuesday, June 6. We respectfully urge you to grant Mr. Tisius clemency and commute his sentence to life in prison.
While the European Union opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, Mr. Tisius’ case is particularly concerning given his documented history of abuse, trauma, and mental illness. He has frontal-temporal-striatal dysfunction, dependent personality disorder, and post- traumatic stress disorder. From our understanding, multiple neurological experts have found that Mr. Tisius’ serious impairments allowed him to be “groomed” by Mr. Roy Vance while serving a 30-day sentence in jail for a misdemeanour. Mr. Vance has a history of recruiting vulnerable people to assist him in carrying out crimes and directed Mr. Tisius to organize his escape from prison. Although Mr. Vance did not shoot Deputies Jason Acton and Leon Egley, he has claimed responsibility for the plan that put Mr. Tisius in the position to commit the crime. Yet Mr. Vance is serving a life sentence while Mr. Tisius faces execution.
Additionally, it appears that Mr. Tisius did not have adequate legal representation during his initial trial. The American Bar Association noted that his trial attorney conducted no depositions or investigation, and failed to share information on Mr. Tisius’ childhood abuse with jurors. Five jurors voiced concerns over Mr. Tisius’ trial and stated that Mr. Tisius’ defense attorneys had “no defense against the death penalty” and “did not do much to refute the state’s case.” Several also believe that they did not receive substantial information on Mr. Tisius’ mental state, and argue that if they did, they likely would not have voted for the death penalty.
Mr. Governor, Deputies Acton and Egley’s murders are a tragedy and we send our deepest condolences to their families. However, Mr. Tisius does not present a danger to society and has been a model inmate. The 27 Member States of the European Union have long abolished the death penalty and yet continue to prosecute crimes to the fullest extent. Mr. Tisius’ personal history should be taken into account and we hope you will spare his life by commuting his sentence.
Deputy Ambassador, Chargé d’affaires a.i.
Ambassador of Sweden to the United States