A man who killed two people in a drug dispute and a sheriff's deputy in a subsequent shootout was put to death Wednesday in what could be Missouri's last execution for some time. Earl Forrest died by injection for the December 2002 deaths of Harriett Smith, Michael Wells, and Dent County Sheriff's Deputy JoAnn Barnes. The 66-year-old Forrest declined to make a final statement. The execution was delayed about an hour, partly because of severe weather in the area. Tornado sirens sounded at one point. As the execution began, Forrest mouthed words to his adult daughter, who was among the witnesses. He stopped speaking within seconds of being injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital, but showed no outward signs of distress, the AP reports.
"We know this execution will not bring JoAnn back, but it destroyed an evil person that otherwise would be still walking this earth," the deputy's family members said in a statement. Forrest's fate was sealed hours earlier when the US Supreme Court refused to halt the execution and Democratic Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon turned down a clemency request. The execution, Missouri's 19th since November 2013, brings the state's death row population down to 25 men, none of whom face imminent execution. Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, says the death penalty is withering in the state because fewer people are being sentenced to death. No one at all was sentenced to death in Missouri in 2014 or 2015, he says. (Nationwide, executions are at their lowest level in decades.)