Few people can say they’ve dodged death. Thomas Arthur has done it seven times.
The Alabama death row inmate has survived seven execution dates since 2001. Arthur, now 75, is fighting for another reprieve with just hours until he’s set to be put to death for the eighth time on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.
Arthur was convicted in the 1982 murder-for-hire slaying of Troy Wicker. Wicker’s wife, Judy, initially told police she came home after taking her children to school and was raped by a black man who shot and killed her husband. After she was convicted of Wicker’s murder and sentenced to life in prison, Judy changed her story and testified that she hired Arthur, her lover, to kill her husband and that he did so wearing a wig and makeup in an attempt to look like a black man.
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.
“I did not commit that crime,” Arthur told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview from Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama. “I won’t give up ‘til I draw my last breath. I won’t give up.”
The Alabama Department of Corrections set execution dates for Arthur in 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2016, but all were postponed as a pro bono legal team challenged his conviction. Arthur’s attorneys say there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime. Judy’s rape kit cannot be found to be tested, and defense attorneys have asked for modern DNA testing on the wig the killer allegedly wore.
“Neither a fingerprint nor a weapon, nor any other physical evidence connects Thomas Arthur to the murder of Troy Wicker,” Suhana Han, a partner with Sullivan & Cromwell law firm in New York City, which is representing Arthur pro bono, said in a statement to ABC News on Thursday. “Time and again, Mr. Arthur has been denied access to critical evidence, including a rape kit…