753 S.W.2d 881 (Mo.banc 1988)
On November 24, 1985, Mark Steffenhagen and Parkus were inmates in the
Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP), in housing Unit 2-B, a Special
Treatment (protective custody) Unit for prisoners who had been
threatened with sexual abuse or had exhibited suicidal tendencies.
from supper sometime between 5:30 and 6:00p.m. and was found strangled
in his cell about 7:15.
Larry Weixelbaum, an
inmate walkman on fourwalk, who described the routine followed by
inmates returning to their cells from supper, stated that upon leaving
the dining hall, they returned to their walks and waited at their cells
until the guard simultaneously opened all doors, at which time each
entered his cell and the doors were locked.
On the evening of the
murder, Weixelbaum was released from his cell after lockdown to perform
his duties as walkman and as he moved along the corridor he noticed the
bars of Steffanhagenís cell, number 116, were covered by a blanket but
he thought little of it because Steffanhagen often put up a blanket for
At about 7:15,
Weixelbaum heard someone calling from Steffanhaganís cell and he saw a
hand "waving him over". He went to the cell and Parkus, who was there
instead of his own cell, shoved the blanket aside and said "man you got
to get me out of here".
The light in the cell
was then turned on and Steffenhagan was lying on his left side on the
bed. Weixelbaum told Parkus to roll him over to see what was wrong.
Parkus said "man he ainít breathing, I think I killed him. You are going
to have to get me out of here". Weixelbaum notified Sergeant Richard
As Hagendorf made his
way to fourwalk he released the lock on cell number 116. As Hagendorf
approached the cell, Parkus stepped in the hall and said "he didnít do
nothing" and tried to walk away.
Parkus was ordered to
stay in front of the cell while they examined Steffanhagan. Parkus began
to run for the stairs but was caught by Hagendorf and was placed in
handcuffs and moved to a secure area.
The autopsy of
Steffenhagan revealed scrapes on his nose and chin and a cut on the lip
suggesting he had been struck by a blunt object such as a fist. Bruises
on the back of his hands, wrist and ankles indicated his arms and legs
had been tied and that he had struggled. External contusions to the neck
as well as internal damage to the larynx demonstrated the cause of death
was manual strangulation.
In this undated photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections,
Missouri inmate Steven Parkus is shown.
The Missouri Supreme Court
spared Parkus, 46, a convicted murderer from execution Tuesday, April
17, 2007, by upholding a lower court decision that he is mentally
retarded. As a result of the unanimous ruling Parkus will instead serve
a life prison sentence.