(KPLR) – Missouri is set to conduct a record tenth execution of the year just after midnight on December 10th. Paul Goodwin raped and murdered Joan Crotts, 63, in her north St. Louis county home back in 1998. Crotts’ daughter has been counting the days to his execution since.
“Sixteen years, nine months, and ten days. Tonight will make it ten days,” Debbie Decker said without hesitation when asked how long it had been since her mother was killed. She remembers it well. She’s the one who found her, clinging to life, after entering her home. She remembers one of the dogs was acting strangely.
“He kept running up and down the stairs,” Decker recalled. “I found her in a pool of blood downstairs on the basement floor. She couldn’t turn her face to look at me but she could raise her head up and I put a towel under her head.”
She would make it to the hospital but die in surgery.
Goodwin blamed Crotts for getting him evicted from the boarding house next to her home on Lyndhurst Avenue. He snuck into her home, hiding in the basement, and then attacked. He sexually assaulted her, and then threw her down the basement stairs. But he wasn’t done yet according to Decker.
“He knocked her down the stairs to kill her and all he did was break her hip. So then he went down and hit her in the head with a sledge hammer. It wasn’t a ball peen hammer, it was a sledge hammer. A three pound sledge hammer.”
The ACLU has joined Goodwin’s lawyers in asking for a stay of execution. They describe him as mentally disabled, and say that’s reason enough to spare his life.
“At the age of 48, Paul has spent the last 15 years of his life in prison and is still seen as a “simple-minded kid” who exhibits childish and immature behavior,” the ACLU’s Sara Rossi said in a release Tuesday. “Like a child, he does not comprehend the consequences of his actions and is unable to help his defense attorneys articulate his case. Paul is not innocent of his crime, but proponents of the death penalty will cite his guilt as the sole reason for his death sentence, completely disregarding his mental capacity.”
But Decker disagrees, calling Goodwin cruel, and saying he forfeited his right to mercy when he killed her mom.
“He’s had the prerogative of talking to his mom on visits all this time. I don’t. I didn’t get that prerogative. I don’t get to see mom any more. And that’s something I will miss for the rest of my life. Always. That's never gonna go away I don’t think. Even after tonight that’s not gonna go away.”