Victim's Family Outraged Over Stay Of Execution For Missouri Inmate

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

A Missouri family is outraged after a federal judge granted a temporary stay for Missouri death row inmate John Winfield days before he was scheduled to be executed.

Convicted of killing two women in St. Louis County in 1996, Winfield was scheduled to die at 12:01 a.m. June 18.

One of several appeals from Winfield's attorney states concerns over a corrections department employee who wanted to write a clemency letter for Winfield but was allegedly intimidated by prison officials.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a stay Thursday. It is unclear whether the state plans to appeal. 

Friends of the victims told Fox 2 Now they are outraged by the decision.

A witness to the 1996 crime, Melody Donald, says she saw Winfield shoot and kill both Shawnee Murphy and Arthea Sanders.

Carmelita Donald, who was also shot by Winfield but survived, was left blind from the attack. The 42-year-old woman dated Winfield and the couple has a daughter together. The two women Winfield killed were Donald's friends.

“I wanted to be there,” she told NBC News of the June 18 execution date. She believes Winfield should die for his crimes.

The couple’s daughter, Symone Winfield, now 22, does not agree.

Symone, who was a toddler at the time of the murders, recorded a video asking for a stay for her father. She cited concerns about Missouri’s lethal injection drugs.

"My dad has been there for me at every step of my life, giving me encouragement, love, and support," Symone wrote in a sworn declaration distributed Wednesday by her father's attorneys. "I love him unconditionally and would be devastated if he were executed."

Symone’s stance has put her at odds with her family, NBC News reported.

"I love my mother dearly and have a relationship with her as well," she said. "I know how this has affected her and I am not excusing what happened."

She said no child should have to face the execution of a parent.

"I have questioned whether I could emotionally and mentally survive if I decided to go to the execution to sit on my dad's side and be there for him as he is killed," she said. "No child should have to grapple with these questions."

Her grandmother, Olivia Donald, called Symone’s actions “selfish.”

"To me, it's a little selfish. But I'm going to let her get over this," she said. "You're talking to a blind woman and the woman who took care of her."

"At the end of the day, they are still my mom. And my dad," Symone told NBC News. "I have an open relationship with my mom. She's entitled to her own opinion."

Sources: Fox 2 Now, NBC News