John Middleton Becomes Sixth Person to Die in Missouri’s Death Chamber this Year

John Middleton died on Wednesday night after a conviction of three murders almost two decades ago in Missouri. Image Missouri Department of Corrections
John Middleton died on Wednesday night after a conviction of three murders almost two decades ago in Missouri. Image Missouri Department of Corrections

In its sixth execution this year, the state of Missouri carried out the execution of small-time methamphetamine dealer 54-year-old John Middleton, after he was convicted of murdering three people in the rural northern part of that state in the mid-90s.

It was in June of 1995, according to Missouri’s court,  that Middleton carried out the murder of two of the victims just days after he told a friend, “The snitches around here are going to start going down.” He was convicted of meeting the two men on a gravel road in a sparsely populated part of the state, shooting them and stuffing them in the trunk of one of the victim’s trunk. Middleton’s girlfriend accompanied him to the slayings, she is currently serving life in prison for second degree murder, charges that she plead guilty to.

It was determined in court that just days later, Middleton shot a rival meth dealer in the face and dumped his body in a field near Bethany, Missouri.

Middleton would tell acquaintances that he killed the three victims, according to witness testimony in court during his trial. In addition, Middleton was seen purchasing ammunition just hours before the slayings.

Middleton was scheduled to die at one minute after midnight on Wednesday morning, but a flurry of legal actions halted his execution for a time. A stay was granted in Middleton’s execution a scant two hours before he was scheduled to die on the grounds that he was mentally ill and could not, under Missouri law, face the executioner. 

The state of Missouri appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals but that court had already adjourned for the night. But, the appeals court overruled the stay once re-adjourned.

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Even with the defense’s contention that Middleton was innocent of the crimes, the U.S. Supreme court refused to overturn the Appeals Court’s ruling.

It was in February that a man came forward and signed an affidavit stating that two rival meth dealers took him to a rural area of the state and showed him the body of one of Middleton’s alleged victims and told him that three snitches had already died and asked him if he would like to be the fourth, then commenced to beat the man senseless then raped his girlfriend. The state determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to back up that man’s assertions.

Middleton was put to death 13 hours after his scheduled time of execution, he was declared deceased at 7:06 pm after a lethal dose of pentobarbital was administered at 6:58 pm. He was 54-years-old and had spent almost two decades in prison after he was originally sentenced to death.

With its sixth execution this year, Missouri ranks third for executions in the country, only falling behind Texas and Florida, who have put to death seven convicts each this year.