AG asks court to lift Arthur’s execution stay

Published 10:33 pm Thursday, August 7, 2008

MOBILE – Attorney General Troy King on Thursday asked the Alabama Supreme Court to lift its stay of execution for 66-year-old Thomas Arthur and set a new execution date.

Arthur’s execution was halted last week on the eve of his scheduled lethal injection.

The state Supreme Court voted 5-4 for the stay without explanation, pending further orders from the court that haven’t come yet. King said he asked the court for a rehearing on its decision.

He said it’s still not clear on what basis the court granted the stay. In his motion, King described the court’s decision as “wrong as a matter of law and fact.”

“This court should grant the state’s motion for rehearing and reverse its decision granting a stay of execution,” the filing says.

Convicted in three trials, Arthur was scheduled to death for the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker Jr. of Muscle Shoals. Two convictions were overturned on technicalities.

In winning last week’s stay, Arthur’s attorneys sought DNA testing of evidence from his trial and submitted to the court a surprise confession from another convicted murderer claiming he killed Wicker.

King described that confession as “incredible and unbelievable.” In his filing Thursday, King pointed out that the federal courts on two separate occasions have reviewed Arthur’s allegations that DNA testing will exonerate him and definitively rejected Arthur’s contentions.

“In certain cases, DNA tests results can definitively tell the world who was the culprit. However, this case is not one of those cases,” the filing says.

It was unclear Thursday whether the DNA request or the unexpected confession from another inmate swayed the court to halt the execution.

It was the third time Arthur received a stay on the eve of his execution.

The court usually takes months to set a new execution date once an execution has been delayed.