MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Convicted murderer Tommy Arthur — called the “Houdini” of death row by some after escaping seven prior execution dates — was scheduled to be put to death Thursday evening in Alabama, as his attorneys filed a flurry of last minute appeals.
Arthur, 75, was convicted in the 1982 murder-for-hire slaying of Troy Wicker. Arthur’s lawyers made multiple last-ditch appeals, both in and out of court, seeking to halt the execution originally scheduled for 6 p.m. CDT. Late Thursday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a temporary stay “pending further order” from the justices as they consider Arthur’s request.
Arthur’s lawyers argued that Alabama plans to use an ineffective sedative and Arthur will feel “the chemical equivalent of being burned at the stake.” In a separate filing, they argued that his legal team should have access to a telephone in the witness room in the case the execution goes awry.
Speaking by telephone Monday from a south Alabama prison, Arthur acknowledged his hopes of gaining an eighth reprieve are diminishing. “I’m terrified, but there’s nothing I can do. I’ve got hope in my legal team,” Arthur told The Associated Press.
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.”
Arthur maintained his innocence as his legal team and asked the state’s governor to halt the execution to allow DNA testing on hairs found at the scene. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey denied the request saying the matter how already been reviewed by juries and the courts.
“Neither a fingerprint nor a weapon, nor any other physical evidence connects Thomas Arthur to the murder of Troy Wicker,” said Suhana Han, Arthur’s lead lawyer.
The sprawling case began Feb. 1, 1982, when police responded to a call about a break-in and found riverboat engineer Troy Wicker slain in his bed in the north Alabama city of Muscle Shoals. Arthur was in a prison work-release…