Killer Facing Execution Soon Remains Defiant Mcdonald Shot Officer as His Child Watched

By Kim Bell Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau | St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), September 22, 1997 | Go to article overview

Killer Facing Execution Soon Remains Defiant Mcdonald Shot Officer as His Child Watched


Kim Bell Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau, St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)


Although his execution is just days away, cop-killer Samuel McDonald Jr. isn't about to make a death-bed confession. The dean of Missouri's death row, McDonald remains bitter and defiant.

"It was an election year, and the prosecutor chose to go after me with the death penalty," McDonald said. "There's no equity in giving people capital punishment."

McDonald faces death by injection early Wednesday for the murder on May 16, 1981, of off-duty St. Louis County Police Officer Robert T. Jordan. Jordan was shot, kneeling before the gunman, after a robbery in front of a convenience store as Jordan's 11-year-old daughter watched. In an interview at the Potosi Correctional Center, McDonald tore into prosecutors, the judge and his own trial lawyer, Mary-Louise Moran, for failing to secure for him a psychiatric evaluation before the trial. "More than anyone, she's about to cost me my life," said McDonald, 48. McDonald claims he suffered from post-Vietnam syndrome, a post-traumatic stress disorder he once read about. Experts say the disorder leaves a person in a state of "hyperarousal" with the inability to control things or "deliberate accurately." The jury that convicted McDonald never heard about the stress disorder; McDonald is hoping last-minute appeals with Gov. Mel Carnahan and the Missouri Supreme Court will win him a reprieve. McDonald, a machine gunner during the Tet Offensive, enlisted in the Army at the age of 17. He was in Vietnam from December 1967 to November 1968 and was once trapped behind enemy lines for five days. He said that he mistakenly killed a woman and her child and that his platoon lost 34 of 44 men. "Situations like that are pretty devastating to the psyche," he said. Before trial, St. Louis Circuit Judge Daniel T. Tillman denied Moran's four requests for the psychiatric evaluation, saying Moran didn't follow procedure by notifying the court she planned to rely on a defense of mental defect. Moran had said that was part of her trial strategy - and she didn't want the prosecutors seeing the psychiatric evaluation. State and federal courts have all rejected McDonald's claim that his trial lawyer was ineffective. …

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