Monroe man still on death row after murdering well-known Rev. Lea Joyner

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OUACHITA PARISH, La. (KNOE) Louisiana lawmakers met on Tuesday to investigate why so many murderers facing the death penalty have not been executed.

Lea Joyner was murdered in 1985.

The state's last execution was in 2010, and that prisoner volunteered to be executed.

Family members of murder victims testified before the Criminal Justice Committee. Those family members questioned why the state has not carried out a death sentence in nearly ten years, even though 70 people are on death row.

5 out of the 70 are from northeast Louisiana. One being Winthrop Earl Eaton. Jurors found Eaton guilty of murdering well-known pastor Lea Joyner of Monroe.

Joyner started the Southside United Methodist Church in 1952. Since her death, the church has moved from its previous location on South 4th and Temple Drive. Its name has also changed to Lea Joyner Memorial United Methodist Church. Ben McGehee pastors the church.

"Lea always held out hope for redemption...always held out hope for salvation," McGehee said. "I just think it's an incredible legacy that she leaves and those are big shoes to fill.'"

Joyner went missing on March 12, 1985. Her church doors were locked, but Monroe police officers found her broken eyeglasses and a pool of blood outside. Joyner's car was also missing.

"It's difficult to think about, to be real honest. Nobody at the church likes to talk about," McGehee said.

On March 13th, investigators found Joyner's vehicle in Arkansas with Eaton. Eaton admitted to police he dumped Joyner's body in a cotton field near Bayou Desiard.

Eaton told officers he hit her over the head with a steel pipe and stabbed her several times. A judge sentenced Eaton to death, but his execution stayed because psychiatrists said he was not sane enough to be executed. Eaton is still on death row at Louisiana State Penitentiary.

McGehee said some members of his congregation believe the death penalty should be carried out for Eaton. And some do not.

"If he just continues to serve out his life in prison, that will serve justice for us," McGehee said. "Ms. Joyner would not have wanted her killer to be executed."

Joyner has several buildings, roadways, and events named after her. McGehee says more than 3,000 people attended her funeral service.

"Not only did you hurt Lea Joyner, the hurt the church that she started...really the whole community of Monroe," McGehee said.

The Department of Corrections says it is having trouble getting the lethal injection drugs because pharmaceutical companies do not want their brands associated with executions.

Others on death row for crimes in NELA are:

Henry Anderson
Date to Death Row: June 21, 2005
Victim: Nita Brinson, 85, was stabbed to death in September 2000.

Sedwric Clark
Date to Death Row: Jan. 15, 2002
Victim: Bertha Anderson, 68, and his daughter, Mariah Barnes, were killed in Oak Grove in February 2000.

Jimmie Christian Duncan
Date to Death Row: Dec. 2, 1998
Victim: Chaley Oliveaux, his girlfriend's 23-month-old daughter, was sexually abused and drowned Dec. 18, 1993.

Winthrop Earl Eaton
Date to Death Row: Feb. 23, 1987
Victim: The Rev. Lea Joyner of Monroe was kidnapped, raped and murdered in March 1985.

Willie Tart
Date to Death Row: Jan. 9, 1992
Victim: William Quenan, 70, and Lillian Quenan, 66, were stabbed to death Sept. 7, 1989, in their Bastrop home.