Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Executions to resume

The wheels turn again.

Justices' decisions clear way for three Texans to be executed
Clay Robison: Express-News

AUSTIN — Dallas County prosecutors can seek another execution date for a man convicted of killing his parents 10 years ago, after the U.S. Supreme Court denied appeals filed by him and two convicts from Alabama and Mississippi.

The high court's action on Monday had the effect of lifting stays of execution granted the three men last fall, when the court decided to consider the constitutionality of execution procedures in Texas and 35 other states.

Ruling last week in a case from Kentucky, the court rejected arguments that the lethal three-drug combination administered to convicts was unconstitutionally cruel.
Carlton Turner, who had been scheduled to die the day after the high court granted his stay in September, was convicted of shooting his adoptive father and mother in their home in August 1998.

The Dallas County district attorney's office will ask a state district court to set a new execution date sometime this summer, a spokeswoman said.

Also losing their reprieves before the Supreme Court were Thomas Arthur of Alabama and Earl Wesley Berry of Mississippi, both convicted of murders in the 1980s.

Critics of the execution procedures had argued that if the first drug were administered incorrectly or in an insufficient dosage, the convict could suffer intense pain from the other two drugs but would be unable to express discomfort because the second drug is a paralytic.

But Chief Justice John Roberts, in his ruling, said Kentucky's execution protocol, which also is followed in Texas, is "believed to be the most humane available."

Harris County prosecutors also are expected to move quickly in seeking execution dates for six convicted murderers from Houston. Their convictions already have been affirmed on appeal, and they have been denied habeas corpus relief in state and federal courts.