Carman Deck, Whose Death Sentence Was Overturned 3 Times, Has Execution Scheduled for May

The Missouri Supreme Court on Monday scheduled the execution of a man whose death sentence has been overturned three times.

Carman Deck, who was sentenced for killing James and Zelma Long in 1996, is expected to be put to death on May 3 at the prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri, site of all of the state's executions.

Deck's lawyer, Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, said there are plans to appeal. She told Newsweek on Tuesday that a group representing Deck plans to meet on Wednesday, but nothing specific has been set.

Since 1976, Missouri has carried out 91 executions, with the most recent Ernest Johnson in October. Johnson's lawyers provided documentation of his intellectual disability, arguing that he was ineligible for the death penalty, but the state Supreme Court rejected the argument. Missouri currently has 21 people on death row.

After Deck confessed to the killings, he was first sentenced to death in 1998. But the state Supreme Court threw out the sentence due to errors by Deck's trial lawyer, according to the Associated Press.

After being sentenced again, the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 threw out the death sentence because Deck was shackled in front of the jury, citing prejudice.

In October of 2020, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court's decision, reinstating Deck's death sentence, according to Leader Publications.

In its October decision, the court overturned U.S. District Judge Catherine D. Perry's 2017 decision in which she called a portion of the trial that led to the death sentence "fundamentally unfair," according to AP.

Perry wrote that the witnesses in Deck's case either couldn't be found, had died or developed "hostile attitudes" toward Deck, according to the Daily Journal. She also called Deck's lawyers "ineffective" for not saying the delay in the trial was a constitutional violation.

However, the Circuit Court of Appeals concluded Deck's "postconviction counsel's performance was reasonable," which was a significant point included in Perry's 2017 decision, according to Leader.

The three-judge panel ruled that Deck should have raised his concern in state court, not federal court, according to AP.

Court records show that Deck and his sister, Tonia Cummings, went to James and Zelma Long's home to rob them under the facade of asking for directions. After being invited inside, Deck pulled out a pistol, forced them to lie facedown and shot the husband and wife in the head.

Eleven people were executed in the United States in 2021, the fewest number since 1988, according to AP.

Carman Deck Execution
The execution date for Carman Deck is set for May 3 in Missouri after his death sentence had been overturned three times. Getty Images