Latest: Court won't stop execution

Wednesday, June 9, 2010 6:10 AM
Last updated 12:20 PM
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ATLANTA - Georgia's top court rejected a last-minute reprieve for a death row inmate facing execution today after being convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend and her 11-year-old niece. His attorney said he will now urge the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the execution.

Georgia Death Row inmate Melbert Ray Ford is seen in an undated photo provided by the Georgia Dept. of Corrections.   AP
AP
Georgia Death Row inmate Melbert Ray Ford is seen in an undated photo provided by the Georgia Dept. of Corrections.

The Georgia Supreme Court today denied Melbert Ray Ford's motion to delay the lethal injection, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson.

Ford's attorney Brian Mendelsohn had argued that the death penalty is disproportionate and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment because he's sat on death row for more than two decades.

But state prosecutors countered the arguments were a "ruse" and pointed to other rulings that repeatedly upheld the death sentence.

Ford, 49, was convicted of killing Martha Chapman Matich and her niece Lisa Chapman in 1986 in what prosecutors say was a revenge killing. They say Ford began harassing her with phone calls after the couple broke up, and soon was telling friends he wanted to kill her.

He was initially set to be executed on Feb. 23 but it was delayed by more than three months because a spot on the five-member state clemency panel hadn't been filled. The execution was rescheduled for Wednesday after Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed a fifth member last month.

According to court records, Ford was so infuriated at his ex-girlfriend that he tried to recruit several friends in a plot to drive him to the Newton County convenience store where she worked so he could rob it and then attack her.

None would help him, though, until he met Roger Turner, a 19-year-old who was out of a job and nearly penniless. Ford plied Turner with alcohol and the promise of thousands of dollars in cash, eventually persuading him to join the plot, according to court testimony.

The two drove in Turner's car to Chapman's Grocery shortly after it closed on March 6, 1986. Ford leapt out, shot away the lower half of the locked door and entered the store while Turner waited in the car. Turner later said he heard only screams and gunshots while waiting for Ford, who would soon emerge with a bag of money, according to court records.

When authorities arrived, they found Matich lying dead behind the counter, shot three times. Chapman was found sitting on a bucket in a bathroom, shot in the head and having convulsions. She died shortly after.

The two men were arrested the next day and Turner confessed to authorities. Ford, meanwhile, told investigators the shooting began after Matich pushed the alarm button, and that if he had worn a mask it would not have happened.

A Newton County jury convicted Ford and sentenced him to death after an October 1986 trial in which he claimed he was too drunk to know what was happening and that Turner was the one who entered the store and started firing.

Prosecutors dropped murder charges against Turner, a key witness in Ford's trial, and he was sentenced to 20 years in prison on robbery charges. Turner was released on parole after serving only five years behind bars.

In several appeals, Ford argued that the jury failed to find any aggravating circumstances that would have justified a capital sentence. He also contended that prosecutors suppressed evidence about Turner's drug use the night of the killings and claimed his trial lawyer was ineffective.

The appeals were repeatedly denied by state and federal judges, and a petition to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court was rejected on Jan. 25. The Georgia pardons board denied his appeal for clemency on Friday, and a county judge rejected a request to halt the execution on Tuesday.

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CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 06/09/10 - 05:25 am
0
0
Stop wasting time, roll 'em
Unpublished

Stop wasting time, roll 'em in, do the deed & gear up for #25. We've supported his medical,dental,meals,etc long enough.

Southern_Patriot
0
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Southern_Patriot 06/09/10 - 07:56 am
0
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#25 is a good number and so

#25 is a good number and so on and so forth

themaninthemirror
0
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themaninthemirror 06/09/10 - 08:02 am
0
0
Hook him up and pull the

Hook him up and pull the switch. They need another coal shoveler in hell.

workedforit
0
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workedforit 06/09/10 - 08:08 am
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What is so sad here is why
Unpublished

What is so sad here is why this takes so long.

hobohobbitt
0
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hobohobbitt 06/09/10 - 08:12 am
0
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24 years and this piece of

24 years and this piece of trash can still appeal?

Dixieman
17265
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Dixieman 06/09/10 - 08:55 am
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Death penalty opponent

Death penalty opponent lawyers string everything out as long as possible, file last-minute new claims, etc. and consider they are serving justice if they can manipulate and abuse the system to delay, delay, delay. Yuck.

Jane18
12332
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Jane18 06/09/10 - 09:06 am
0
0
This man(?) does not deserve

This man(?) does not deserve any kind of last minute reprieve, he's had one for 24 years. He didn't think about one for the ex-girlfriend or that little girl. Send him on State of Georgia, it's time for him to anwer to THE FATHER.

RoadKing09
16
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RoadKing09 06/09/10 - 09:08 am
0
0
If the defense attorneys

If the defense attorneys really want to save the killers life, wouldn't it be simpler for him or her to take their place.

mandyme
0
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mandyme 06/09/10 - 02:39 pm
0
0
...come on 7pm....put in the

...come on 7pm....put in the juice.

gregtthomas
0
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gregtthomas 06/09/10 - 02:50 pm
0
0
"Let the one who is without

"Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone."

hobohobbitt
0
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hobohobbitt 06/09/10 - 03:20 pm
0
0
I will insert the needle.

I will insert the needle. Does that help you. By the way, we are not talking about sin moron, we are talking about two premediated murders!

gregtthomas
0
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gregtthomas 06/09/10 - 03:29 pm
0
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@hobo, No need for name

@hobo, No need for name calling. I think we are both civilized human beings. Killing is a sin. Killing by the State is a sin.

CobaltGeorge
175257
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CobaltGeorge 06/09/10 - 03:57 pm
0
0
gregtthomas, do you have

gregtthomas, do you have enough candles for your bleeding heart gathering tonight?

ennui
0
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ennui 06/09/10 - 05:56 pm
0
0
So, the attorney files appeal

So, the attorney files appeal after appeal to slow up his execution, and then says we shouldn't kill him because it took too long to get the job done?

gregtthomas, this guy is getting off light. His death will be easy compared to what his victims suffered.

GAequalizer
0
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GAequalizer 06/09/10 - 07:11 pm
0
0
This maggot killed an 11 year

This maggot killed an 11 year old child who sat on a bucket, according to the news and convulsed (meaning she died very painfully). Kick this maggot off the planet ASAP!!!! It's 8:11 PM has the state taken out the trash yet???

purmkinhed
27
Points
purmkinhed 06/09/10 - 08:07 pm
0
0
OK AC. How about an update on

OK AC. How about an update on this piece of crap! He has to be in hell by now.

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