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Crime News

Missouri Man Whose Death Sentence Was Overturned, Then Restored Three Times To Be Executed

Carman Deck is set to be executed for the 1996 murders of Missouri couple Zelma Long and James Long.

By Dorian Geiger
Missouri inmate Carman Deck

The execution of a Missouri man convicted in the 1996 double murder of an elderly couple is expected to proceed Tuesday, despite his death sentence being overturned three separate times.

Carman Deck, 56, is expected to be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic & Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, corrections officials confirmed with Oxygen.com. 

Deck was convicted in the double murder of James Long, 69, and Zelma Long, 67, who were killed during a 1996 burglary of their rural Jefferson County home.

Deck's execution will go ahead after the U.S. Supreme Court blocked his appeal and Missouri’s Gov. Mike Parson declined to grant him clemency on Monday. 

"Mr. Deck has received due process, and three separate juries of his peers have recommended sentences of death for the brutal murders he committed," Parson said in a statement

Parson, who described the Longs' slayings as “heinous” and “callous,” brushed aside Deck’s clemency appeal, in which the death row prisoner alleged he’d been a victim of chronic sexual and physical abuse as a child.

"The State of Missouri will carry out Mr. Deck's sentence according to the Court's order and deliver justice," the governor said.

Deck’s final meal, which was served around 1 p.m., consisted of a ribeye steak, shrimp, asparagus, salad with Italian dressing, cottage cheese, and V-8 juice, according to Karen Pojmann, the communications director for the Missouri Department of Corrections. 

Deck is now slated to become the fifth U.S. inmate to be executed this year, the Associated Press reported. It’s also the first execution of 2022 in Missouri, corrections officials said. 

On July 8, 1996, Deck stopped at the Longs’ home, and pretended to be lost. After getting directions from Zelma Long and James Long, Deck pulled a gun on the elderly couple and demanded they lie face down on their bed. The couple, who complied without a struggle, opened a safe for Deck, and turned over jewelry and $400 in cash before Deck fatally shot them both.

Deck, who had been childhood friends with the Longs’ grandson, officials said, had visited the home approximately 13 years earlier. He told investigators his mother’s boyfriend encouraged him to carry out the robbery in order to finance a trip to Oklahoma. Deck, who said he’d canvassed the area around the Longs’ home prior to the home invasion, claimed he’d planned to break in while the couple was at church and loot their safe. 

Deck also told investigators that James Long had even offered to write him a check before he shot him twice in the head. 

"That's just how nice he was,” Deck said, according to a Missouri Department of Corrections press release.

He was later arrested at his sister’s apartment building in St. Louis County. Over the years, Deck’s case traveled through various courts, which saw his sentence tossed and later reinstated multiple times.

Deck was first sentenced to death in 1998, however, his case was dismissed by the state’s Supreme Court after it was revealed his trial lawyer had erred in his representation of the Missouri man. He was again condemned to death in 2005, but the high court tossed his sentence once more due to jury prejudice related to Deck being shackled in the courtroom, according to NBC News. 

In 2008, Deck was sentenced to death for a third time, only for a district judge to overturn the ruling nine years later. A panel of three judges for the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals restored Deck’s death sentence in October 2020.

Four other death row inmates have been executed this year. Donald Anthony Grant and Gilbert Ray Postelle were put to death in Oklahoma, Matthew Reeves in Alabama, and Carl Wayne Buntion in Texas, according to the Associated Press. 

On Monday, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee halted executions for the calendar year after he opted to temporarily block the execution of Oscar Smith due to an “oversight in preparation for lethal injection.” Lee granted a temporary reprieve on April 12 about an hour before Smith’s scheduled execution.