Supreme Court rejects Augusta man's death penalty appeal

Mark H. McClain

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from an Augusta man who has been on death row for 14 years.


On Monday, the high court rejected hundreds of petitions for appeals, including one filed on behalf of Mark H. McClain who was convicted of murder and armed robbery and sentenced to death by a Richmond County Superior Court jury in September 1995.

Mr. McClain, 43, shot to death 28-year-old Domino’s Pizza manager, Kevin Brown, the night of Nov. 20, 1994.

Mr. McClain is basically out of appeals now. His lawyers have filed a motion for a rehearing with the Supreme Court, but that does not prohibit the setting a new execution date, said Daryl Robinson, deputy counsel in the Georgia Attorney General’s office.

District Attorney Ashley Wright was out of the office Wednesday.

Mr. McClain has lost appeals at every stage as attorneys tried to convince state and federal judges that he did not have a fair trial. The courts have consistently ruled there was no reason to overturn Mr. McClain’s conviction or death sentence.

Mr. McClain had been on parole for about six months when he walked into the Azalea Plaza pizza store just after closing time. According to trial testimony, Mr. McClain held Mr. Brown up at gunpoint, turned to leave the store and fired on Mr. Brown from the doorway. Mr. Brown was unarmed. A delivery man who ran from the store when Mr. McClain pulled a gun was able to get the license plate number when the shooter left.

Mr. McClain served about four years of a 10-year sentence he received for a South Carolina armed robbery.

Mr. Brown’s only living relative, his father, Albert Brown, died in 1998.



According to a report prepared by the Attorney General’s office in September, this is the status of other death row inmates from the Augusta area:

-- Earnest U. Morrison, 49: habeas petition denied in state court and petition to the U.S. Supreme Court pending. Mr. Morrison can still challenge his conviction and sentence by filing a federal habeas petition. He was sentenced to death in Richmond County Superior Court for the Jan. 9, 1987, rape, robbery and murder of a family acquaintance, Mary Edna Griffin, 54.

-- Willie W. Palmer, 46: granted a second trial in Burke County Superior Court at which he was convicted and sentenced to death again in August 2007. The appellate process has not begun. Mr. Palmer murdered his estranged wife and stepdaughter, 31-year-old Brenda Palmer and 15-year-old Christine Jenkins, on Sept. 10, 1995.

-- Reinaldo Rivera, 46: has a pending state habeas petition. There was a hearing last month and the judge has allowed the parties to submit any new matters by Dec. 4. Mr. Rivera was sentenced to death in Richmond County Superior Court for the Sept. 9, 2000, death of Army Sgt. Marni Glista, 21. Mr. Rivera confessed to raping and killing Sgt. Glista, Tabita Bosdell, 17, Melissa Gingess, 17, and Tiffaney Wilson, also 17.

-- Robert O. Arrington, 62: first, direct appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court is pending. Court heard oral arguments in August. Mr. Arrington was sentenced to death in Richmond County Superior Court for the April 4, 2001, murder of 46-year-old Kathy Lynn Hutchens after she forced him to move out of her home. Mr. Arrington also killed his wife, Elizabeth Arrington, in 1986.



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