Trending Topics

Mo. executes man for murders of 2 COs in 2000

Michael Tisius, 42, died by lethal injection at 6:10 p.m. for killing two COs during a botched jail escape


In a handwritten final statement, he said he was “sorry it had to come to this” and that he “really did try to become a better man.”

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File

By Katie Moore
The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The state of Missouri on Tuesday evening executed Michael Tisius, who fatally shot two correction officers during a botched jail escape more than two decades ago.

Tisius, 42, died by lethal injection at 6:10 p.m. at a prison in eastern Missouri.

In a handwritten final statement, Tisius, 42, said he was “sorry it had to come to this” and that he “really did try to become a better man.”

“I am holding tightly to my faith. It’s all I have left to take with me,” he wrote. “I am sorry it had to come to this in this way. I wish I could have made things right while I was still here.”

Tisius was convicted of murdering two correction officers in 2000 at the Randolph County jail in central Missouri, in a failed attempt to break out a prisoner he knew. That man, Roy Vance, is serving a life sentence.

Tisius, who was 19 years old at the time of the killings, was put to death despite calls from national and international groups, such as the American Bar Association and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, urging the state to halt the execution.

Lawyers for Tisius filed petitions in state and federal courts in attempts to commute his sentence to life. In late April, attorneys discovered one of the jurors was unable to read or write, a skill required by state law.

A federal judge temporarily halted the execution last week and ordered an evidentiary hearing on the juror’s qualifications. On Friday, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the stay.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied several requests for a stay, including one Tuesday on the juror issue. In that case, the Missouri Attorney General’s Office called the juror requirement “technical” and said Tisius’ sentencing was fair.

“The surviving victims of Tisius’ crimes have waited long enough for justice, and every day longer that they must wait is a day they are denied the chance to finally make peace with their loss,” Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s office argued.

Tisius’ legal team sought clemency from Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, citing Tisius’ age at the time of the killings, his sense of remorse and Vance’s role in the escape attempt.

Vance has said he was “the brains behind” the plan and that he manipulated Tisius into helping him.

The clemency application also included statements from five jurors who said they support a life sentence instead of the death penalty.

Parson denied clemency. In a statement, he said Tisius “executed” the two guards, Jason Acton and Leon Egley.

“It’s despicable that two dedicated public servants were murdered in a failed attempt to help another criminal evade the law,” Parson said.

Executions take place at Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, about 60 miles south of St. Louis.

Protesters organized by Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty gathered Tuesday in five cities, including Bonne Terre, Kansas City and Jefferson City, to voice opposition to the execution.

Tisius was the third person the state has put to death this year. On Jan. 3, Amber McLaughlin became the first transgender woman to be executed in the U.S. Five weeks later, Leonard Taylor, who maintained he was innocent, was executed.

Missouri is one of just four states that has carried out executions this year, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Fifteen men remain on death row in Missouri. The state has scheduled the execution of Johnny Johnson, who was convicted of killing a 6-year-old girl, on Aug. 1.

(The Kansas City Star’s Luke Nozicka and Bill Lukitsch contributed to this report.)


©2023 The Kansas City Star.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.