3/28/12 Arthur execution unlikely Thursday By Bernie Delinski Staff Writer
The execution of death-row inmate Tommy Arthur appears to be on hold after a U.S. appeals court denied a motion to vacate Arthur’s stay of execution.
Arthur, a 70-year-old Sheffield native, was scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday at Holman Prison in Atmore.
Deputy Alabama Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said this morning his office’s appeal to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to lift Arthur’s stay was denied.
“We’re trying to decide whether to take it up to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Crenshaw said. “Right now, the decision is the execution is off. It looks like it probably won’t take place.”
Arthur has been on death row for 29 years. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of the 1982 murder-for-hire killing of Troy Wicker, a Muscle Shoals man. Assuming no last-minute legal action occurs, this will be the fifth time his scheduled execution has been lifted.
Last week, a three-member panel of the federal appeals court reversed a judge’s decision to dismiss Arthur’s appeal that contended Alabama’s use of pentobarbital as part of a three-drug execution combination could be cruel and unusual punishment.
In court documents, Arthur’s attorneys contend pentobarbital takes substantially longer to anesthetize an inmate than the old drug, sodium thiopental. The filing states there is a significant risk that the second and third deadly drugs used in the execution process might take effect before the inmate is anesthetized.
State attorneys have pointed to successful executions where pentobarbital was used.
Crenshaw said he believes the court upheld the stay in order to have more time to consider the issue.
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