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Missouri governor is asked to put a stop to execution

ST. LOUIS — Death penalty opponents have asked the governor to halt the execution of a mentally impaired man who was convicted of raping and pushing two sisters to their death in 1991.

The execution of Antonio Richardson also has been opposed by the mother of the victims. The execution is set for 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at Potosi Correctional Center.

The case has drawn international attention because Richardson was 16 at the time of the crime, and is borderline mentally retarded with an IQ of 70.

Groups such as Amnesty International, the Children and Family Justice Center, the Association for Retarded Citizens, Human Rights Watch and the European Union have asked Gov. Bob Holden to spare Richardson's life.

"The whole thing is shocking," said Anne James of the Children and Family Justice Center, based at Northwestern University. "Juvenile executions are particularly worrisome. If a child deviates from the norm, this is how we punish them — we kill them."

Amnesty International spokesman Adam Ortiz said Richardson would be the second person put to death in America in the past 40 years for a crime committed by a 16-year-old. Oklahoma executed a man in 1999 who also was 16 at the time of his crime.

Ginny Kerry, the mother of the victims, told KTVI-TV in St. Louis she felt Richardson was responsible for his crime. "But I requested clemency for him because of his youth and his diminished mental capacity," she said.