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State attorney general asks court not to block execution

MOBILE (AP) — State Attorney General Troy King asked a federal appeals court Wednesday not to block next week's scheduled execution of Aaron Lee Jones, one of the longest-serving death row inmates in Alabama.

Jones, 54, is scheduled to die by lethal injection May 3 at Holman Prison for the gruesome slayings of a couple and attacks on other family members more than 28 years ago during a home robbery.

After drinking rum and beer, Jones and cohort Arthur Lee Giles, also on death row, shot and stabbed three children, their parents and their grandmother in rural Blount County, a farming area northeast of Birmingham.

The parents, Willene and Carl Nelson, died as a result of injuries in the Nov. 10, 1978, attack.

King's motion before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, opposing a stay of execution, says Jones has waited too late to challenge use of lethal injection when he could have raised the issue years ago without needing a stay of execution.

The constitutionality of Alabama's method of execution by lethal injection has never been decided by any court.

"This is not an 'eve-of-execution' case like others where stays were denied," said Jones' pro-bono attorney Heather K. McDevitt of the New York firm White & Case.

The state requested an execution date for Jones in December and he filed the motion for a stay more than two months later. McDevitt contends the lethal injection challenge, filed Nov. 1, was done in plenty of time for Jones' case to be heard on the merits.

"We have been trying to have the case heard but have been blocked by the state which refused to provide crucial discovery," McDevitt said by e-mail Wednesday.

McDevitt accused the state of delaying tactics in blocking her attempts to question the prison's execution team about lethal injection. That request was denied by the state, which offered to produce only Holman's warden.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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