Friday, July 27, 2012

The Stayed Execution of Michael Tisius

Michael Tisius sits on death row awaiting execution by the people of Missouri. He was scheduled for execution on 3 August 2012. His execution has been stayed by the Supreme Court of Missouri due to a lack of drugs with which to conduct the execution.

I summarize the case by extracting from the adverse appellate decision in State v. Tisius (2002). I have replaced each instance of Appellate with Michael Tisius' name.
In early June of 2000, Michael Tisius and Roy Vance were cellmates at the Randolph County Jail in Huntsville, Missouri. Tisius's sentence lasted thirty days, and Vance told Tisius he would be in jail for some fifty years. As such, Tisius and Vance discussed various schemes where Tisius would return to jail to help Vance escape. In one of those plans, Tisius was to return to the jail with a firearm, force the guards into a cell, and give the gun to Vance, who would then take charge and release all of the inmates. 
The Randolph County Jail was a twostory brick building that had been converted from a house. The front door of the jail was kept locked, and the officers could remotely open the door when visitors rang a doorbell. Inside the front door was a small foyer, and to the right behind a counter was the dispatch area where the officers were stationed. A hall led from the dispatch area to the jail cells in the rear of the building. 
Tisius was released on June 13, 2000. Shortly after his release, Tisius contacted Vance's girlfriend, Tracie Bulington, who said that she wanted to go through with the escape plan. Four days later, Bulington drove from Macon to Columbia with a woman named Heather Douglas to pick up Tisius and drive him back to Macon; Tisius and Bulington stayed at Douglas' home for four or five days. During the ride to Columbia, Douglas heard the two discuss various ways of breaking Vance out of jail, including the idea of locking the jailers in a cell. They told Douglas they were joking. Douglas testified that over the days to follow, she heard Tisius and Bulington say that they were "on a mission," but they would not elaborate. Tisius and Bulington also described taking cigarettes to Vance at the jail and of having gotten information from a "stupid deputy." At other times they would stop talking when Douglas entered the room. Douglas also testified that Tisius and Bulington kept a stereo, clothing and camping gear in Bulington's car and that she also saw a pistol in Bulington's car. 
Beginning June 17, 2000, and continuing over several days, Tisius and Bulington visited the jail several times. At or around 1:30 a.m. or 2 a.m. one of those mornings, they were admitted in the front door and delivered a pack of cigarettes to an on-duty officer, requesting that it be given to Vance. A day or two later, Tisius and Bulington returned to the jail with a pair of socks for Vance and asked questions about his upcoming court date. 
Bulington testified that each delivery signified to Vance certain facts, such as that Tisius had made it to town or that the jail break would not occur the night of the delivery. During some of those visits, Tisius kept a .22 caliber pistol that Bulington had taken from her parents' home in the front of his pants. Tisius had tried to acquire a bigger gun than the one Bulington took. On the night of one of their visits, one officer testified that Tisius and Bulington were acting "real funny," nervous and erratic, such that he wrote a police report about the visit. 
Tisius tested the gun by firing it outside of Bulington's car window while the two were driving on country roads on June 21, 2000. Later that evening, Tisius and Bulington drove around listening to a song with the refrain "mo murda" (more murder) as they prepared to get Vance out of jail. Tisius rewound the cassette and played the "mo murda" song over and over. Tisius told Bulington "it was getting about time" and that "he was going to go in and just start shooting and that he had to do what he had to do." Tisius also said he would go "in with a blaze of glory." 
At 12:15 a.m. on June 22, Tisius and Bulington returned to the Randolph County Jail, rang the doorbell and were admitted. Tisius again carried the pistol in his pants. Tisius and Bulington told the officers they were delivering cigarettes to Vance. The two officers present were Leon Egley and Jason Acton. Tisius made small talk with one of the officers for about ten minutes, discussing what Tisius was planning to do with his life and how Tisius was doing. Bulington testified that at that point, she was about to tell Tisius she was ready to leave but froze as she noticed Tisius had the gun drawn beside his leg. Tisius then raised his arm with the pistol drawn and, from a distance of two to four feet, shot Acton in the forehead above his left eye, killing him instantly. Egley began to approach Tisius, and about ten seconds after he killed Acton, Tisius shot Egley one or more times from a distance of four or five feet, until Egley fell to the ground. Both officers were unarmed. 
Tisius then took some keys from the dispatch area and went to Vance's cell. Tisius could not open the cell, so he returned to the dispatch area to search for more keys. While Tisius was in the dispatch area, Egley grabbed Bulington's legs from where he was lying on the floor, and Tisius shot him several more times at a distance of two or three feet. Egley suffered five gunshot wounds, three to the forehead, a graze wound to the right cheek and a wound to the upper right shoulder. Not long afterwards, police found Egley gasping for air and a heard gurgling sound; he was surrounded by a pool of blood. Egley died shortly afterwards. 
Tisius and Bulington fled in her automobile. Tisius threw the keys from the dispatch area out of the car window on the way out of town. Bulington threw the pistol from the car window while crossing a bridge on Highway 36. After the two had passed through St. Joseph and crossed the Kansas state line, Bulington's car broke down. Later that day, the two were apprehended by the police, and the keys and gun were recovered. After having waived his Miranda rights, Tisius gave oral and written confessions to the murders. 
Tisius's theory at trial was that he was guilty at most of second-degree murder because although he admits that he shot and killed the two officers, he argues that he did so without deliberation. Further facts are set forth below as necessary.
I oppose the execution of anyone who might be innocent of the crime for which they are about to die. In all other cases, I stand mute. I neither support nor endorse the execution. In the case of Michael Tisius, I stand mute.


Joe said...

Why does Missouri have problems getting the drug or drugs and other states do not?

Gena W. said...

I knew Michael, if you seen the life he endured you might not forgive his actions but you might understand how this tragedy came to be. His father a cop who always promised to spend time with him ( parents werent together ) Mikey as we called him wld sit outside praying for his dad to come ( in tears many times) His older half brother was physically abusive ( sometimes so brutal I could stand in the street hear radio blaring in there home ) while his brother beat him hoping the radio wld cover up Mikey screaming. The mom was a single mom worked so His brother was left to be his brothers keeper. Mikey wasnt wanted by his father or his brother. I think Mikey was mentally stinted and when he was paired with Vance and vance showed respect compassion comaradery Mikey seen him like a brother he never had. I wld like to say I think prisoners should be evaluated to see what age they are emotionally so a youthful 19-20 yr old ( who was clearly much younger from the trials he endured ) wont be placed in a cell with a man of 28yrs who could easily maniiulate a person eho was still a kid seeking the love and compassion he never got at home. Mikey was a very talented artist he could draw it was awesome. If I were laying odds who of the two brothers wld wind up in jail I would've Guessed Mikey's older Brother, I stood up to his brother tld him to quit bullying & beating his brother ( I was tld to F.O. and Mind my own business). I pray for the families affected by Mikey's actions but I also pray for that young man who sat many weekends on front porch praying for his dad so his brother wldnt get the chance to beat him that weekend.

Unknown said...

His Mother was a horrible Mother. I knew them well. She beat his brother and coddled Mike. I have no doubt Joey took it out on him. But the person to blame was his mother. Shes worked hard at trying to not work. Please get your shit right. His father and grandfather were both cops. Its a tragedy. I have no doubt his Dad nrglected him as started a new family. But his mother who was in the house also neglected both her sons.

Post a Comment