Missouri carries out 1st US execution since pandemic began; Walter Barton has died

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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)

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BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — A Missouri man has been put to death for fatally stabbing an 81-year-old woman nearly three decades ago, the first U.S. execution since the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Who is Walter Barton? A man set to die for a murder committed in 1991

Walter Barton was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday. Barton had long maintained he was innocent of killing Gladys Kuehler, and his case was tied up for years due to appeals, mistrials and two overturned convictions.

Concerns related to the coronavirus caused several states to postpone or cancel executions over the past 2 ½ months.

Until Tuesday, no one had been executed in the U.S. since Nathaniel Woods was put to death in Alabama on March 5. Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas were among states calling off executions. Texas delayed six executions due to the pandemic.

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