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TUESDAY, JULY 24, 2007
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Alabama prisoner seeking to stop Thursday execution

MONTGOMERY (AP) — An Alabama death row inmate scheduled to die Thursday is pursuing last-minute appeals at the state and U.S. Supreme Courts, including seeking more time to argue that Alabama's lethal injection procedures are unconstitutionally cruel.

Attorneys for Darrell Grayson filed paperwork in both courts.

Assistant State Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said Monday the attorney general is arguing that both court filings are merely dilatory and the state should proceed with the execution of a man who has spent more than half of his life on death row.

Grayson, 46, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die for the 1980 slaying of an 86-year-old widow, Annie Laura Orr of Montevallo.

On July 16, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta upheld a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit that Grayson filed against state prison officials. His suit challenged Alabama's lethal injection procedures as being unconstitutionally cruel, but U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins dismissed it because Grayson didn't file his challenge until four years after Alabama changed its method of execution from the electric chair to lethal injection.

Review decision

One of Grayson's attorneys William Montross of the Southern Center for Human Rights in Atlanta, said the U.S. Supreme Court is being asked to review that decision.

Grayson's attorneys told the U.S. Supreme Court that federal circuit courts have taken different views of what constitutes dilatory litigation, and the nation's highest court ought to use Grayson's case to clarify the issue.

In addition, Grayson's attorney asked the Alabama Supreme Court to delay the execution until after Watkins holds a trial starting Oct. 2 on two other death row inmates' claims that Alabama's lethal injection procedures are cruel and unusual. Those inmates, James Callahan and Willie McNair, are not facing execution dates.

"What is the real harm to the state of waiting until October to see if it's cruel and unusual?" Montross asked.

Grayson's challenge focuses on the secrecy surrounding Alabama's lethal injection procedures and whether the lethal drugs are administered in a way to cause pain before the inmate dies.

Grayson, who was 19 at the time of Orr's murder, had a co-defendant, Victor Kennedy, who was also convicted of capital murder and was executed in 1999.

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

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