Supreme Court halts execution of Alabama “murder-for-hire” inmate

Inmate Tommy Arthur (CBSN)
Inmate Tommy Arthur (CBSN)

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the scheduled execution of Alabama inmate Tommy Arthur (all times local):

11:15 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has stopped the execution of an Alabama inmate convicted in a 1982 murder-for-hire.

Five justices voted to grant the stay late Thursday night for inmate Tommy Arthur as the high court considers whether to review Arthur’s appeals. The decision was handed down about an hour before Arthur’s death warrant expired.

Seventy-four-year-old Arthur had been scheduled to be executed Thursday evening by lethal injection at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

He was convicted of killing Troy Wicker. Police on Feb. 1, 1982, found Wicker shot to death in bed in his Muscle Shoals home. Wicker’s wife initially said she had been raped and an intruder killed her husband. She later testified that she had sex with Arthur and promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

The Supreme Court said the stay will expire if it declines to take up Arthur’s case.

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9:25 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has stayed the execution of an Alabama inmate convicted in a 1982 murder-for-hire.

The court on Thursday night stayed the execution of Tommy Arthur without comment, until further order of the court.

Seventh-four-year-old Arthur had been scheduled to be executed Thursday evening by lethal injection at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore.

Prison system spokesman Bob Horton said the state will wait until Arthur’s death warrant expires at midnight to see if the execution can proceed.

He was convicted of killing Troy Wicker. Police on Feb. 1, 1982 found Wicker shot to death in his bed. Wicker’s wife initially said she had been raped and an intruder killed her husband. She later testified that she had sex with Arthur and promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

This is the seventh time Arthur, who has waged a lengthy legal battle challenging his conviction and the death penalty, has been granted an execution stay.

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5:22 p.m.

A correction’s official says the planned execution of an Alabama inmate is being delayed by two hours while the U.S. Supreme Court reviews the man’s appeal.

Tommy Arthur, 74, was originally scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. CDT for the shooting death of a man in a 1982 murder-for-hire arrangement.

Alabama Corrections Department Bob Horton said the execution is now planned for 8 p.m. Thursday after a verbal request by the court. Horton says the state prison commissioner agreed to the delay to avoid the issuance of a temporary stay.

Arthur was convicted of killing Troy Wicker in 1982. Wicker’s wife initially said an intruder killed her husband. She later testified that she promised Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband.

Earlier Thursday, Arthur’s attorneys filed two requests for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court. They argue that the Alabama death penalty sentencing structure is unconstitutional and that a judge prematurely dismissed the inmate’s lawsuit challenging Alabama’s lethal injection procedure as unconstitutional.

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3:23 p.m.

An Alabama inmate convicted in a 1982 contract killing has filed a second request with the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his pending execution.

Lawyers for 74-year-old Tommy Arthur asked the court to stay the lethal injection procedure set for 6 p.m. CDT Thursday.

Arthur’s attorneys say a federal judge prematurely dismissed his lawsuit challenging Alabama’s lethal injection procedure as cruel and unusual punishment.

Arthur was convicted of killing Troy Wicker in 1982. Wicker’s wife initially said an intruder killed her husband. She later testified that she promised Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband.

Arthur’s attorneys argued a federal judge misapplied a requirement for inmates to name an alternate execution method and prevented Arthur’s lawsuit from moving forward.

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9:30 a.m.

An Alabama inmate is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his pending execution.

Lawyers for Tommy Arthur asked the court to stay his execution scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.

Arthur, 74, was convicted of murdering Troy Wicker in 1982. Wicker’s wife testified that she promised Arthur $10,000 to kill her husband.

His attorneys argued Arthur was sentenced under a similar structure that was ruled unconstitutional in Florida because it put too much power in the hands of judges. A judge sentenced Arthur to die after a jury recommended a death sentence by an 11-1 vote.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that there were enough differences to make Alabama’s method constitutional.

Arthur is expected to file another stay request to the court based on a challenge to Alabama’s lethal injection process.

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3:30 a.m.

Alabama is preparing to execute an inmate who was convicted in the 1982 killing of a man in a murder-for-hire arrangement.

Tommy Arthur, 74, is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Arthur was convicted of murdering Troy Wicker in 1982 as the man slept inside his Muscle Shoals home. Investigators said Arthur was having an affair with Wicker’s wife and she later testified that she promised him $10,000 to kill her husband.

The Alabama Supreme Court has set an execution date six times for Arthur, but he has won a reprieve each time. Arthur has maintained his innocence.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to stay the execution. His attorney plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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