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Texas Court Postpones Execution

January 11, 1999

HOUSTON (AP) _ An appeals court has postponed the execution of a convicted murderer who has vowed to ``fight like hell″ when guards arrive to escort him to the death chamber.

Prison officials had planned to use shackles and armor-clad guards today to take Gary Graham to his execution if he followed through on a promise to violently resist.

``I intend to fight like hell,″ he said last week while urging supporters to show up at the Huntsville, Texas, prison armed ``with picket signs, with rifles, with shotguns, with AK-47s and whatever else is necessary and required to defend our rights.″

Instead, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Sunday postponed Graham’s death, saying it needed more time to ``evaluate the issues presented in this complex case.″

The court did not specify what it needed to review.

Graham, 35, was convicted in the May 1981 shooting death of Bobby Lambert during a robbery outside a Houston supermarket.

Dianne Clements, president of the Houston-based victims’ rights group Justice For All, noted that Graham’s conviction already has been the subject of 35 judicial reviews.

``There’s no reason to believe that this 36th review will not yield the same results: not credible, guilty as charged,″ Mrs. Clements said Sunday.

But Graham’s attorney, Richard Burr, said the appeals court ``did exactly what it should have done, which is to give themselves more time to look at this issue.″

Officials with the Texas attorney general’s office, which could appeal the ruling, did not return a message from The Associated Press on Sunday.

In fighting his execution, Graham has attracted support from the likes of actor Danny Glover, entertainer Harry Belafonte, filmmaker Spike Lee and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. He maintains he did not kill Lambert.

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