US Supreme Court issues temporary stay in Alabama execution

But Prison Commissioner Jeff Dunn said the execution beat the legal deadline since it started before midnight, and it went off without any of the hitches that have marred other lethal injections in Alabama and elsewhere.

The Supreme Court issued a temporary stay Thursday, then lifted it later that night, leading to his execution.

An officer performed a test to determine whether intravenous drugs had rendered Arthur unconscious about 3 minutes before his death warrant expired, saying the inmate's name repeatedly and pinching his arm without a visible response.

The long-running legal saga began on February 1, 1982, in the north Alabama town of Muscle Shoals along the Tennessee River.

Three juries had found Arthur guilty of shooting Troy Wicker to death in his sleep.

A 75-year-old Alabama murderer set to die on Thursday is asking USA courts to block his execution for an eighth time, challenging a drug cocktail that left the last inmate put to death in the state coughing and wheezing for 13 minutes.

Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. CDT Friday at a southwest Alabama prison after a lethal injection, authorities said.

Undated photo of death row inmate Thomas Arthur, who was convicted in the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker.

Wicker's two sons witnessed the execution but did not make a statement to the media.

"I'm terrified, but there's nothing I can do", Arthur told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Monday.

Arthur was convicted in the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker. The drug to be used on Arthur took 13 minutes to kill a man last December in Alabama.

Alabama's lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama's lethal injection chamber at Holman Correctional Facility

Wicker's wife Judy first told police she was raped by a "black man" who shot her husband.

"Now", she said, "I will never know the truth".

Both the state of Alabama and Arthur's lawyers have pointed to his case as an example of what they see wrong in death penalty cases.

The U.S. Supreme Court says the planned execution of an Alabama inmate can proceed. One challenges the use of a drug in the state's l. "Mr. Arthur was rightfully convicted and sentenced, and tonight, that sentence was rightfully and justly carried out". She later changed her story and testified that she had discussed killing her husband with Arthur, who came to the house wearing an Afro-style wig and with his face painted with makeup, and shot her husband.

"They are going to kill me this time", he said.

Arthur has maintained his innocence even as his defence team raises questions about the injection procedure and evidence in the case.

Amid a flurry of last-minute appeals to delay his seventh date with the executioner, Arthur's pro bono counsel on Thursday filed their first petition for a writ of certiorari.

The nation's high court stayed the execution of Tommy Arthur, "pending further order" from the justices, late Thursday afternoon.

Alabama Attorney General Stephen Marshall, in a written response to the request for a stay, said the seven previous stays were the result of Arthur's long-term "manipulation" of the federal and state courts and called the request for this latest stay "frivolous".

"That's why I am calling for mandatory DNA testing on all available evidence in all capital cases and not just in Alabama but across the United States", Stone said.

  • Joanne Flowers