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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
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State opposes delay in Arthur execution

MOBILE (AP) — State prosecutors told the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in written motions Wednesday that death row inmate Tommy Arthur has exhausted his appeals and his scheduled Sept. 27 lethal injection in a murder-for-hire scheme should not be delayed.

Arthur's attorneys have asked the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit to delay the execution until civil suits challenging use of lethal injection and another seeking DNA evidence could go to trial.

Arthur, 60, was first convicted in 1982 for capital murder in the Feb. 1, 1982, death of Troy Wicker, 35, who was shot in the right eye as he lay in bed in his Muscle Shoals home.

His first two convictions and death sentences were overturned on appeal. But Arthur has been on death row at Holman prison near Atmore about 16 years after being convicted for capital murder and sentenced to death in 1992 at his third trial.

His criminal record includes another murder in Marion County and a jail escape in which a jailer was shot in the throat but survived.

Arthur acted as his own counsel during his last retrial in the Wicker killing, but was assisted by two attorneys. In the penalty phase of trial, Arthur asked for a death sentence, but also told the jury: "I wouldn't dare ask you for it if I thought for a minute that I would be executed."

Judy Wicker, now 60, testified that she began a sexual relationship with Arthur after he committed to killing her husband and that she paid him $10,000 for the slaying. She initially said an intruder, not Arthur, killed her husband. In Colbert County, she was given a life sentence for her part in the murder and paroled after 10 years behind bars.

Judy Wicker testified that Arthur, who is white, wore an Afro wig and makeup to disguise himself as a black man when he shot her husband.

Joseph Wallace, an evidence technician with the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, removed an Afro wig from the car that Arthur used to make his getaway, according to the court record.

Arthur exhausted his state and federal appeals when the Supreme Court denied a review on April 16.

Attempting to block the execution, Arthur's lawyers began a two-pronged federal civil suit, challenging lethal injection in a Mobile court and a call for DNA evidence in Montgomery.

The district courts rejected the claims, leading to an 11th Circuit review. The 11th Circuit did not indicate when it would rule.

Seeking to block the execution, New York attorney Suhana S. Han claims that no evidence against Arthur has undergone DNA testing. In Arthur's appeal, Han has requested access to it so it can be tested at no cost to the state.

The anti-death penalty Amnesty International USA (AMIUSA) also protested Arthur's scheduled execution.

"Given the many unanswered questions in this case, it would be absurd for Alabama not to test all the DNA," said AMIUSA executive director Larry Cox in a statement Tuesday. "When Alabama refuses to examine available evidence, it might as well say 'we don't care if we actually get it right.' "

The federal district court ruled, however, that granting Arthur access to physical evidence, "the testing of which would not have altered the outcome of his trial, would be of little or no probable value."

State prosecutors contend Arthur received a fair trial and no evidence was withheld from the defense. The prosecution had 13 witnesses, many of whom corroborated Judy Wicker's testimony, according to court documents.

Court records show that Arthur was serving a sentence for a previous murder. He was assigned to the prison system's Decatur Work Release Center and had signed out for work on the day of Wicker's murder.

A friend helped him obtain a .22-caliber rifle later used in the murder, according to authorities.

Pat Halliday, an employee with the Decatur Work Release Center, testified that Arthur was transferred to the Morgan County Jail after the discovery of the discrepancy between the number of hours he was away from the center and the number of hours he was actually paid for working.

When searched, Arthur had 20 $100 bills in an envelope in his overcoat pocket.

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

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