Alabama scheduled to execute man in ’82 murder-for-hire

tommy-arthur

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama inmate who was convicted in the 1982 killing of a man in a murder-for-hire arrangement is set to die Thursday.

Tommy Arthur, 74, was convicted of killing Troy Wicker with a gunshot through the eye as he slept inside his Muscle Shoals home.

Wicker’s wife initially said she had been raped and an intruder killed her husband, but she later testified she had sex with Arthur and paid him $10,000 to kill her husband. She also testified that Arthur, who is white, wore a wig and makeup to disguise himself as an African-American man when he shot her husband.

Arthur is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday. The execution is scheduled after years of appeals for Arthur, who once asked a jury to give him the death penalty but has avoided it for decades.

Juries twice convicted Arthur, but those convictions were overturned on appeal. During his third trial in 1991, Arthur ignored the advice of his attorneys 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.

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, who has maintained his innocence, sent Gov. Robert Bentley a four-page handwritten letter asking for an execution stay, arguing he had never had a fair trial and that potential DNA evidence in the case had not been reviewed.

Arthur’s attorneys on Thursday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution. His attorneys argued 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 is expected to file another stay request to the court based on a challenge to Alabama’s lethal injection process. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to stay the execution after he challenged Alabama’s death penalty procedure as unconstitutional.

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