Montgomery, Al. -- Attorney General Troy King has filed a renewed motion to set an execution date for Thomas Arthur, following the U.S. Supreme Court's order today that terminated a stay of execution that had been in place since December 5. In the wake of last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way to allow the resumption of lethal injections in a procedure similar to that used in Alabama, Attorney General Troy King now has filed four renewed motions to set execution dates. On April 17, Attorney General King asked the Alabama Supreme Court to move forward and set execution dates in the cases of Jimmy Dill, Phillip Hallford and Willie McNair.
"On April 16, 2008, the Supreme Court of the United States definitively held that Kentucky's lethal injection protocol, which is substantially similar to Alabama's lethal injection protocol, does not violate the Eight Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment," the Attorney General states in his motions to renew the execution dates of Arthur and the others. He goes on to state that the U.S. Supreme Court thus "removed any question as to the constitutionality of Alabama's lethal injection protocol."
In the case of Arthur, Attorney General King notes that 20 years have passed since Arthur's original conviction and sentence of death. Arthur was serving a sentence of life imprisonment for a 1977 murder in Marion County, when he was assigned to a work release center in Decatur. On February 1, 1982, Arthur murdered the husband of a girlfriend, Troy Wicker, by shooting Wicker with a .22 caliber pistol through the right eye while he was asleep. Arthur has three times been convicted and sentenced to death for Wicker's murder-in 1982 in Colbert County Circuit Court, in 1987 with a change of venue in Jefferson County Circuit Court, and again in 1991 in Jefferson County Circuit Court. The previous two convictions were overturned on legal technicalities, and the third conviction has been upheld by the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Alabama Supreme Courts, and all federal and state appeals have been exhausted. "Thus, it is the appropriate time," Attorney General King states in his petition, "for this Court to enter an order to execute Arthur's duly-adjudicated sentence."
Attorney General King stated that in this case-as well the previous ones filed and others to follow with motions to set execution dates in the near future-justice demands that the courts move forward to carry out the death sentences. "Justice has too long been delayed in each of these cases, and in many more," he said. "We are committed to moving swiftly to deliver justice for the victims who suffered at the hands of these wicked criminals."