Alabama Execution Set Today For 1982 Murder

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Tommy Arthur has his eighth execution date today in Alabama in a case that has spanned the tenures of eight governors, starting with George Wallace. The New York Times reports that case is “a symbol of the troubles of the capital punishment system in the United States.” Robert Dunham of the Death Penalty Information Center, which opposes capital punishment, said that, “People who simply want the execution are unhappy because of the passage of time. People who oppose the death penalty are unhappy because they don’t want Tommy Arthur executed. People who want fairness are unhappy because, despite the length of time this case has been in the courts, the process has never been fair.”

In Alabama, 58 people have been put to death since Arthur was sentenced for the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker. If Arthur, 75, is executed today, his death will come one week after the legislature approved to a plan to reduce the length of appeals in capital cases. Arthur confessed to one murder but was given a death sentence for a second he insists he did not commit. Authorities contend that Wicker’s wife, Judy, hired Arthur, her lover, to carry out the killing so she could collect an insurance payout. Ms. Wicker was found guilty and spent a decade in prison. Arthur has maintained his innocence and sought new forensic testing of evidence. He argued his sentence was unconstitutional and that his claims of ineffective counsel were never fully considered. He raised challenges to the lethal injection drug midazolam. Clay Crenshaw of the Alabama Attorney General’s office said, “I think he and his lawyers have successfully manipulated the system.”

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