Alabama executes death row 'Houdini'

Alabama Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Tommy Arthur who was convicted in the 1982

Alabama Department of Corrections shows death row inmate Tommy Arthur who was convicted in the 1982

Arthur was convicted of killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot as he slept in the north Alabama city of Muscle Shoals.

A man once called the "Houdini" of Alabama's death row for escaping seven execution dates through legal challenges has finally been put to death for a 1982 murder-for-hire shooting. He also is the third-longest serving inmate among Alabama's 184 death row inmates.

Washington -Tommy Arthur was executed late on Thursday after his eighth, and final, rendezvous with the USA state of Alabama's capital punishment system. Governor Ivey is expected to sign it into law tomorrow. The execution began about 11:50 p.m., 10 minutes before the death warrant was to expire, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn said.

Arthur's lawyers made multiple last-ditch appeals, both in and out of court, seeking to halt the execution.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall called Arthur's case an "egregious example of how a convicted murderer can manipulate the legal system to avoid justice". They argue the inmate could feel pain because the drug isn't effective.

Here is AL.com's coverage of the death penalty in Alabama.

Alabama Department of Corrections spokesperson Bob Horton told CNN, "The Alabama Department of Corrections will wait on the US Supreme Court to render a decision on Arthur's appeal".

In a statement before the execution, Arthur read out the names of his children. He was given two consciousness tests - one to make sure an inmate is sedated is routine - before the final two drugs were administered.

The Alabama Supreme Court is refusing to halt the execution of an inmate, just hours before he is scheduled to die.

Supporters argue the bill would spare victims of crime the agony of legal appeals that drag on for decades.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a stay requested by Arthur.

To learn more about Alabama executions go here.

In a telephone interview on Monday Arthur maintained his innocence but acknowledged that his chance of another stay was diminishing. He and his lawyers say there is no physical evidence such as DNA or fingerprints that link him to Wicker's death.

Arthur has repeatedly denied killing Wicker. General Counsel Bryan Taylor said jurors knew about the hairs and still convicted Arthur of capital murder. Then he looked straight ahead, appeared to sigh a couple of times and looked back at her and she waved back at him. But he has always denied murdering Wicker. "He killed more than one person", Grantham said. "I've seen and heard it all and he is guilty". "The state has until midnight to carry out the execution". "His latest filing is simply more of the same". Thomas Arthur has done it seven times. CBS 42 News spoke with Wanda Miller who is a victim's advocate.

"There are no words to describe the living hell that this has been for the Wicker family. We are hoping and praying that the execution is not delayed any further". Another woman was wounded. She was accused of paying Arthur $10 000 for the hit.

Arthur was convicted in 1983, but that conviction was overturned. He escaped from jail while awaiting his second trial by shooting a jailer in the neck. He was caught a month later by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Knoxville, Tenn., after robbing a bank.

A 1987 conviction was overturned and he was convicted again in 1991.

Mr Wicker's wife, Judy, initially told police she came home and was raped by a black man who shot and killed her husband.

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