An Alabama inmate who has had seven past executions postponed is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection tomorrow.
Arthur, now 75, was convicted of killing Troy Wicker Jr. of Muscle Shoals by shooting him in the right eye on February 1, 1982, according to court documents. Arthur's attorneys filed two last-minute appeals to the court. He has maintained his innocence all along and had dodged execution seven times before Thursday. They also said in a separate filing that a sedative used by the state is ineffective and will not render Arthur unconscious.
Although he maintains his innocence, Arthur has asked for the death penalty at each of his three trials - a strategy aimed at opening up more appellate review, he said.
"Until I take my last breath I'll have hope", he said. A few hours after the phone interview with Arthur had ended, a member of his legal team contacted the Guardian to say that there had been a change of plan: his eldest daughter had decided that despite the trauma she wanted to be present - she will be by his side should his eighth summons to the death chamber turn out to be his last.
Seventy-five-year-old Tommy Arthur is scheduled to be put to death Thursday for the 1982 murder-for-hire of Troy Wicker.
At the time of Wicker's killing, Arthur was on work release from a life sentence for the second-degree murder of his sister in law. After her conviction, she testified that Arthur killed her husband while wearing a wig and makeup. The first two convictions, in 1983 and 1987, were overturned on appeal, but a 1991 conviction was affirmed. The decision was strategic, he said, to open up more avenues of appeal.
The Alabama death row inmate has survived seven execution dates since 2001. All were delayed as his legal team fought his sentence.
Troy Wicker's niece told Alabama media that the execution would give surviving family members closure after decades of pain. "All I can do is just hope, and I think my attorneys have some things working and I hope some of them get some traction". But he is guilty.
"How to proceed when faced with a potential execution is one of the most hard decisions I will ever have to make as governor".
Among those executions cited in their current appeal is the December 8 execution of Alabama Death Row inmate Ronald Bert Smith, Smith heaved and appeared to be gasping for breath for about 13 minutes after being injected with midazolam.
Arthur's lawyers argued they should have access to a telephone to access the courts if the execution went awry. Arthur's attorneys then quickly filed an emergency request for a stay of execution to that court, stating that his execution should wait until litigation over their claims that the legislature should select the lethal injection drugs is completed. The request was denied. In 2016, Arthur came especially close to the death chamber.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey refused to halt the execution Thursday afternoon, and after looking over the petition, after a almost 4½ hour temporary stay, the U.S. Supreme Court justices, with Justice Sonya Sotomyer as the dissenting voice, denied the stay.