Missouri execution would be first since pandemic began

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FILE – This Feb. 18, 2014, file photo provided by Missouri Department of Corrections, shows death row inmate Walter Barton, convicted of killing an 81-year-old mobile home park manager in 1991. The pause in U.S. executions during the coronavirus pandemic likely will end Tuesday, May 19, 2020, with the scheduled lethal injection of Barton. Republican Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Monday, May 18, 2020, that he had not heard anything to make him reconsider the execution, which he said would “move forward as scheduled.” (Missouri Department of Corrections via AP, File)

O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic put a pause on U.S. executions, but that is likely to change as Missouri prepares to execute an inmate for the slaying of an elderly woman nearly three decades ago.

Walter Barton would be the first person executed in the U.S. since Nathaniel Woods was put to death in Alabama on March 5. Soon thereafter, efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus shut down the U.S. economy and led to strict limits on social distancing, including inside prisons.

At least three states have put executions on hold in the intervening 2 ½ months.

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