Steven Parkus was born on July 22, 1960 to Linda and J.W. Parkus, who lived in St. Charles Missouri. Linda Parkus, a poor share-cropper from rural Arkansas, spent most of her time drinking and doing street drugs, even when she was pregnant with Steve. J.W. Parkus was a heavy drinker who had a record for auto theft. The family lived in a bug-infested apartment in the St. Louis area until Linda took the children and left J.W. Linda continued to drink heavily and would not feed, diaper or care for Steve and his brother Chester. She was prone to terrible mood swings and too often her indifference turned to outright abuse. On one occasion Steve's mother locked Steve and Chester in the bathroom. Steve climbed out the window and wandered around until a police officer found him and brought him home. After the police left, Steve's mother took a knife, held it over the stove and burned his buttocks with the hot blade as punishment.
In November of 1967, Steve and Chester began living with their maternal great-aunt and uncle, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor Hampton. On April 23, 1968, a report of parental neglect was made against Steve's natural parents, and on May 10, 1968, legal custody of Steve was transferred to his aunt and uncle, the Hamptons. Taylor Hampton was a alcoholic pedophile who regularly brutalized and savagely raped his nephew. Examples include the following:
[Mr. Parkus] was beaten with a belt, with fists, and was hit on the head with a monkey wrench by the uncle who not only beat them but made his brother fight with him for his entertainment. The uncle restrained the aunt by holding her by the throat and cracked eggs on her head. ...He was subject to sodomy by his uncle who forced him to perform oral sex and submit to anal sex. On one occasion, his brother lost the uncle's cigarettes, but the uncle thought it was Steve's fault. And so told him to put his hand on the kitchen counter. Steve did not know what was coming and complied. The uncle then hit Steve's hand with a meat cleaver, nearly severing the right index finger at the base.
Not surprisingly, Steve began to behave strangely throughout his childhood. Steve was slow to lean to walk and talk. He frequently ran away from home, and sometimes would become lost on his way home from school. Steve acted aggressively toward other children at school. It was this inappropriate behavior that led to Steve's first commitments in psychiatric facilities for mental evaluations when he was only eight years old. These mental evaluations revealed mental defective intellectual performance. Other testing revealed that "his consciousness seems flooded with threatening, hostile thoughts and feelings to the point where... reality testing [is] adversely effected possibly to the point of thought disorder." This examiner concluded that Steve "is very unstable at this time and may be psychotic."
Over the next two years, Steve was alternated between in-patient treatment at St. Louis State Hospital and the Taylor home. At age twelve, a psychiatrist summed up Steve's sad social and psychological history. Steve, he wrote, was "born and reared in a deprived environment, was frequently neglected until he was adopted by an aunt and alcoholic uncle." Steve continued to manifest sociopathic and psychotic behavior...[and] severe learning difficulties."
Steve's troubles continued and he found himself in the Booneville Training School. While at the school, he assaulted a teacher. Steve was certified to stand trial as an adult and while awaiting trial he escaped and assaulted a local woman but did not injure her. For this incident, Steve was charged with escape and assault. Steve plead guilty to three felony charges and at age 17, was sentenced to 17 years in the Missouri State Penitentiary. Because of his young age and small stature, Steve was victimized physically and sexually by the other prisoners. Prison documents indicate that he was sold by one inmate to another for use as a sex slave for the price of $60. At one point Steve was stripped naked and paraded up and down a cell block by prison guards who asked other inmates if they wanted Steve in their cell for sex.
On November 24, 1985, Steve went into the cell of an inmate he was involved in a consensual homosexual relationship with and choked him to death as they were having sex. This inmate, like Steve was small in stature, probably mentally retarded and subject to being victimized by predatory inmates. Steve and this inmate discussed the treatment they received from other prisoners and discussed suicide as a way to end their suffering.
The jury that convicted Steve of the murder and sentenced him to death was not fully informed of Steve's background, mental defects, or relationship with the victim. Steve's attorney failed to find his medical records showing is psychotic history. If this information had been given to the states experts, as was later done, they would have come to the conclusion that Steve did not have the capacity to deliberate upon his conduct when he committed the crime for which he now faces death.
Steve is incompetent to be executed and counsel for Steve will petition the Court to determine whether he can be executed. Counsel will also be asking Governor Mel Carnahan to commute Steve's sentence to life in prison.