Appeals court upholds death sentence in 1994 murder

A federal appeals court today upheld the conviction and death sentence of a Kansas City man who killed an Independence service station attendant in 1994.

Leon Taylor, now 51, is black and alleged that prosecutors improperly removed African-Americans from the juries that convicted him and recommended the death sentence.

But the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found that prosecutors had legitimate reasons for striking those potential jurors not related to their race.

Taylor killed Robert Newton during the robbery that was witnessed by Newton’s 8-year-old stepdaughter. According to trial testimony, Taylor also pointed the gun at the girl’s head and pulled the trigger, but the weapon jammed.