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Death penalty opponents protest Grayson execution

MONTGOMERY (AP)— Lisa Thomas had on brown and tan sneakers when she ended her five-day protest trek from Selma to Montgomery, but she said each step was covered with more than just a rubber sole.

"I really walked on faith that we're going to get a miracle," said Thomas, one of more than 50 death penalty opponents who gathered at the Capitol on Wednesday. "I've done three walks and this is by far the most energizing walk I've ever had."

Activists begged Gov. Bob Riley to intervene in the execution of 46-year-old Darrell Grayson, who is scheduled to die Thursday for the 1980 slaying of Annie Laura Orr, an 86-year-old widow who was robbed and raped before she was killed in her Montevallo home.

Stay of execution

The opponents want Riley to stay the execution for 30 days while a DNA test is done. They say the test, which was not available at the time of Grayson's 1981 trial, would erase lingering doubts about his guilt.

Grayson was not charged with raping Orr, but prosecutors used the rape as aggravating circumstances to get the death penalty.

"Stop this execution — just do the DNA," Judy Collins Cumbee said, setting off chants of "Just do the DNA!" from the crowd.

Attorney General Troy King, who has asked the Alabama and U.S. Supreme Courts not to delay the execution, said a DNA test won't exonerate Grayson of the murder, which he has confessed to several times.


"I'm not going to be a party to allowing justice to expire. That's what's being requested in this case," he said. "A victim's family has been waiting as justice has been delayed, and delayed and delayed and delayed."

Grayson is one of the longest serving men on Alabama's death row, where he has been since his conviction in 1982. Of the 195 men on death row in Alabama, only five have been there longer than Grayson, according to the state Department of Corrections.

Esther Brown, who is executive director of Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty where Grayson is chairman, said the defense case for her "dear friend" was marred by inexperience and underfunding.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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