COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
A federal judge has granted a temporary reprieve for a man who was scheduled to be executed next week for the killing of two Randolph County jailers.
Judge Stephen Bough of the Western District of Missouri granted the stay Wednesday pending a hearing. Michael Tisius had been scheduled to die by lethal injection Tuesday.
Tisius was convicted of shooting and killing two Randolph County jailers during an attempt to free a friend in 2000. Tisius was convicted at 19 years old and has been detained since his conviction in 2001.
Advocacy groups delivered letters to Gov. Mike Parson on Tuesday seeking clemency for Tisius.
According to Bough's order, lawyers for Tisius recently discovered that a juror in his 2010 resentencing hearing was possibly unqualified because he could not read or write English.
"I believe in an eye for an eye . . ." the juror said in an affidavit. "Someone at the Courthouse helped me fill out my juror questionnaire . . . I told the Courthouse employee that I could not read. The Courthouse employee took me into a private room. The Courthouse employee read word for word the questionnaire and filled in the answers for me."
According to court documents, the juror could only read at a third- or fourth-grade level and that a Greene County Court employee helped him complete the questionnaire to serve on the jury.
"We would anticipate that they'll file a motion to vacate the stay and that, you know, we will respond to it," Tisius' lawyer Elizabeth Carlyle said.
The Missouri Attorney General's office appealed the stay Wednesday afternoon.
"The eighth circuit will rule on it," Carlyle said. "And probably, whichever side isn't happy with that ruling will end up heading for the U.S. Supreme Court."
Bough said the stay is needed so the issues of the problem juror could be heard in court.
Carlyle believes Tisius' execution would be morally wrong.
"We think it's just unjust for Mr. Tisius to be executed," Carlyle said. "Because of who he is and what, how he's changed in the 20-some-odd years since this happened."
Mark Nichols -- a former Randolph County sheriff -- said he's remained in contact with the victim's family, who just wants to see this case come to an end.
"Of course, it was disappointing. And I'm more disappointed for the families of the victims. Over the years I've become really close with the families, the Actons and the Egley," Nichols said. "This is just something that is being drawn out on them. It's been almost 23 years and at some point, the end of the chapter has to come."