Wednesday, November 28, 2007

US Supreme Court justices will not allow a death row inmate's challenge using DNA evidence

(AP) - WASHINGTON-The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to allow a death row inmate to try to prove his innocence through DNA testing.

Thomas Arthur, 65, was sentenced for the 1982 killing of Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. His execution has been set for Dec 6, but is expected to be delayed because of a pending Supreme Court case involving lethal injections.

The victim's wife, Judy Wicker, testified at Arthur's trial that she had sex with him and paid him $10,000 (€6,735) to kill her husband, who was shot in the face as he lay in bed. Earlier at her own trial, Wicker testified that a man burglarizing her home raped her, knocked her unconscious and then shot her husband.

In April, Arthur's lawyers sued the state claiming that the inmate was being deprived of his rights and was entitled to DNA testing of critical pieces of physical evidence, including a rape kit, blood-stained clothing and hairs aimed at showing that someone other than Arthur committed the murder.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta affirmed a federal judge who dismissed Arthur's lawsuit, citing the authority of federal courts to dismiss such claims that are speculative or are filed too late in proceedings.

Arthur filed his claim five days before the state of Alabama moved to set an execution date.

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