Saturday 17 August 2019

Alabama inmate seeking freedom from death row dies

Donnis Musgrove had been fighting his conviction for nearly 30 years
Donnis Musgrove had been fighting his conviction for nearly 30 years

A US death row inmate who was seeking to overturn his murder conviction has died, one of his lawyers said.

Donnis Musgrove died on Wednesday night at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama. Attorney Cissy Jackson said Musgrove was suffering from lung cancer.

"It was a privilege to know and represent Donnis," Ms Jackson said.

"My husband and I have been working for his release since 1997, and we are so sorry that he did not live to be exonerated."

Musgrove, 67, was sentenced to death for the gunshot killing of Coy Eugene Barron in 1986.

However, Musgrove has steadfastly maintained his innocence, and his legal team contends the prosecution falsified the evidence against him, including witness statements and a shell casing that was used to link him to the slaying.

The attorney general's office previously has declined to comment on Musgrove's legal arguments.

Musgrove was trying to become the third inmate freed from Alabama's death row since April. Lawyers asked US district judge David Proctor for a quick ruling because of Musgrove's ill-health.

Two other men have been released from Alabama's death row since April after winning appeals.

One of them, Anthony Ray Hinton, was tried by the same Jefferson County prosecutor and judge who handled Musgrove's case, and the same ballistics expert was involved in each case.

Musgrove contended that the evidence of wrongdoing in his case is more extensive than in the case against Hinton.

The state had argued that rules prohibited Musgrove from making new claims about being innocent and barred him from questioning evidence used in his trial, but prosecutors did not directly address his arguments contending that he was wrongfully convicted based on bogus evidence.

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