October 21, 1992
Potosi, Missouri
Ricky Lee Grubbs (33) is executed for the beating and stabbing death of an acquaintance

Grubbs had been with his brother Randy on February 15, 1984 when Randy visited his acquaintance Jerry Thornton at Thornton’s home. According to Randy, he introduced the two then excused himself to use the restroom. When he returned, Randy witnessed the men engaged in a violent struggle.

At some point, Grubbs beat Thornton into unconsciousness. The brothers gathered neckties from Thornton’s closet and hogtied him. Grubbs then picked up a knife, told his brother to look away, and cut Thornton’s throat. The brothers took food stamps and $30 in cash then fled. The following day, Grubbs returned to the scene with a milk jug filled with gasoline and burned the mobile home.

Thornton’s autopsy revealed he had died from fluid in the lungs. In addition, he had a brain hemorrhage, 13 ribs had been broken, his sternum cracked, his liver and small intestines injured, and his nose broken. Three days later, Grubbs confessed to the murder.

In Grubbs’ confession, he claimed Thornton was immediately aggressive towards him and threatened to assault Grubbs unless he left. Following the threat, Thornton moved towards Grubb which caused the latter to panic and strike Thornton. Grubbs’ attempt at a self-defense plea was unsuccessful and he was sentenced to death.

Many attempted to petition on Grubbs’ behalf to have his term commuted to life, including Amnesty International US’s executive director Jack Healey, who argued Grubb was “borderline mentally retarded, with a despicable history of child abuse and neglect,” and thus execution would be considered cruel and unusual. The appeals were rejected and Grubbs was executed by lethal injection.

New York Times. October 22, 1992
via newspapers.com

Smith, Bill. “Born to Lose: The life and death of Ricky Lee Grubbs.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. January 10, 1993
“Killer-Arsonist is Executed in Missouri.” Deseret News. October 22, 1992. Accessed: October 21, 2019. https://www.deseret.com/1992/10/22/19011891/killer-arsonist-is-executed-in-missouri
“Killer Dies in Missouri Execution, Making U.S. Total a 30-Year High.” New York Times. October 22, 1992
“Inmate becomes 26th executed this year — most since ‘62.” Argus-Leader [Sioux Falls, South Dakota]. October 22, 1992
State v. Grubbs. Annotate this Case. 724 S.W.2d 494 (1987). STATE of Missouri, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Ricky Lee GRUBBS, Defendant-Appellant. No. 68230. Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc. February 17, 1987. https://law.justia.com/cases/missouri/supreme-court/1987/68230-0.html

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