Appeals Pursued With Five Executions Set For Friday
Undated (AP) _ Lawyers pursued appeals today for five death row inmates scheduled to be executed Friday in four states, but one asked his attorneys to drop the effort.
In Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S. District Judge David Sam today refused to block convicted ″Hi Fi″ killer Pierre Dale Selby’s execution, saying the inmate had been given a proper clemency hearing.
And in Atlanta today, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant a stay of execution for Wayne Eugene Ritter, 33, scheduled to die shortly after midnight in Alabama’s electric chair.
William Mitchell, 35, was scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. in Georgia’s electric chair.
In Florida, Beauford White, 41, and Gerald Stano, 35, had been scheduled to die in the electric chair Wednesday. But White was granted a reprieve until 7 a.m. Friday, and Stano until 1 p.m. Friday.
The number of executions this year nationwide stands at 19. The most in any one year since the landmark 1976 Supreme Court decision that allowed resumption of capital punishment is 21, in 1984.
In the only multiple-execution day since 1976, two executions occurred on July 8, one in Texas and one in Mississippi.
Selby’s attorneys were expected to appeal Sam’s decision immediately, and a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was ready to take the appeal.
Sam praised the state Board of Pardons for its careful consideration of Selby’s commutation plea.
In Ritter’s case, his attorneys said they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court after the appeals court decision was announced, but then reported that he had told them to ″drop the whole thing.″
There was no immediate explanation for his decision, and his appointed attorneys asked the Supreme Court for guidance, saying they felt legally obliged to continue.
Ritter, at Holman Prison near Atmore, Ala., was sentenced to death for a 1977 robbery in which a pawnbroker was slain, although he was not the triggerman. The killing was part of a three-month, seven-state crime spree by Ritter and John Louis Evans III, who was executed in 1983.
Ritter’s attorneys also hoped that clemency might be granted by Alabama Gov. Guy Hunt, who scheduled a private meeting with Ritter’s family today.
Selby was convicted of the torture murders of three people during a 1974 robbery at the Ogden Hi-Fi Shop.
Five people in the shop were forced to drink caustic Drano and each was shot in the head. One also was raped and a pen was kicked into one man’s ear. Two survived, but have never fully recovered.
If the sentence is carried out, Selby, 34, of New York City, would be the first person executed in Utah since Gary Gilmore was shot by a firing squad 10 years ago.
An appeal for Mitchell was before the Georgia Supreme Court this morning, and the state Pardons and Paroles Board was to meet this afternoon to decide whether to grant clemency.
Mitchell was convicted of killing a 14-year-old during a convenience store robbery in Sylvester, Ga., in 1974. Mitchell, of Folkston, Ga., pleaded guilty to murdering the boy, who was visiting his mother at the store where she worked. The mother also was shot, but survived.
In the case of the Florida Death Row inmates, the 11th Circuit in Atlanta scheduled arguments on Stano’s appeal for Friday morning, but had not acted on White’s case.
Stano was sentenced to death for the slaying of a 17-year-old Port Orange, Fla., girl who was stabbed and choked to death after she was picked up hitchhiking in late 1973. Her body was found a month later by hunters on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
White was condemned for his role in the killing of six people in an allegedly drug-related robbery in the Miami suburb of Carol City in 1977. Co- defendant Marvin Francois died in the electric chair on May 29, 1985. Co- defendant John Ferguson remains on death row.