The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed the death sentence for Michael
Tisius, convicted in the 2000 murders of a pair of Randolph County jailers.
In the court’s unanimous decision, it ruled that the trial court did not err on
several counts, including introducing hearsay evidence from outside the scope
of the trial. That evidence was Tisius’ 2009 guilty plea to knowingly
possessing a boot shank while in prison. It was an Alford plea, meaning he did
not admit to the act but only that sufficient evidence existed that could
persuade a judge or jury to find him guilty.
“The circuit court did not plainly err in admitting Tisius’ prior conviction
into evidence as this was relevant to his character,” said the opinion written
by Judge George Draper.
On June 22, 2000, Tisius and Tracie Bulington had planned to free an inmate
from the Randolph County Jail by intimidating jailers at gunpoint. They killed
Leon Egley and Jason Acton with gunshots to the head and chest. In 2001, a St.
Charles County jury handed down 2 death sentences on 2 counts of 1st-degree
murder. Those sentences were reaffirmed in July 2010 by a Greene County jury
after a 4-day penalty phase retrial in Boone County Circuit Court.
Tisius’ attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jeannie Willibey, argued in
December before the Missouri Supreme Court that Tisius’ death sentences should
be vacated. She said Tisius’ death sentence was disproportionate to the
sentences imposed in similar cases, considering the crime, strength of evidence
and the defendant. But the high court ruled that the sentence was not
“This Court independently researched both death and life cases and has not
identified any similar case involving pre-meditated murders of two law
enforcement officers as committed by Tisius that would support a finding that
his sentence is disproportionate. Tisius’ conduct was calculating and brazen,”
(source: Columbia Daily Tribune)