Saturday 20 January 2018

Death row inmate who escaped death six times faces execution

Tommy Arthur was promised $10,000 to kill husband.
Tommy Arthur was promised $10,000 to kill husband.

A man convicted of the 1982 shooting to death of a woman's husband in a murder-for-hire arrangement was set to be executed Thursday evening.

Tommy Arthur, now 74, from Alabama, was convicted of killing Troy Wicker with a shot through the eye as he slept in his Muscle Shoals home, Alabama.

Wicker's wife initially told authorities she had been raped and that an intruder killed her husband, but she later testified that she had sex with Arthur and promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

Arthur was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6pm Thursday at the state's Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore. The execution date follows years of appeals.

Juries twice convicted Arthur, but those convictions were overturned on appeal.

During his third trial in 1991, Arthur ignored the advice of his attorneys and asked the jury to sentence him to death. He said at the time that he didn't have a death wish, but it was a way of opening more avenues of appeal. He has long maintained he is innocent.

The Alabama Supreme Court has previously set six execution dates for Arthur, but he won reprieves each time. The Alabama attorney general's office in July had asked the court to set an "expedited seventh execution date" after a federal judge dismissed Arthur's most recent challenge to state death penalty procedures.

Arthur had sent Alabama Goveror Robert Bentley a four-page handwritten letter requesting a stay of execution, arguing he had never had a fair trial and that potential DNA evidence in the case had not been reviewed.

"I'm not guilty and did not have a fair trial in 1991," Arthur wrote in the hand-scrawled note.

Arthur's attorneys on Thursday filed two requests with the US Supreme Court to stay the execution, but there was no immediate response from the court.

The inmate's attorneys argued that Arthur was sentenced under a similar structure that was ruled unconstitutional in Florida because it put too much power in the hands of judges. A judge sentenced Arthur to die after a jury recommended a death sentence by an 11-1 vote.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that there were enough differences from Florida to make Alabama's sentencing method constitutional.

Arthur filed a second stay request late Thursday to the US.Supreme Court based on a challenge to Alabama's lethal injection process.

His attorneys argued a federal judge misapplied a requirement for inmates to name an alternate execution method and prevented Arthur's lawsuit from moving forward.

Arthur suggested a firing squad and another lethal injection drug, but the judge said Arthur had not identified a source for alternate drugs and a firing squad was not explicitly named as an allowed form of execution in Alabama law.

The Alabama attorney general's office urged the high court to let the execution go forward.

"The prior six execution dates were stayed based on Arthur's long-term manipulation of the federal and state courts through civil litigation and successive collateral attacks," attorneys for the state wrote in a response filed Thursday with the high court.


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