Across the Southest

Inmate spared lethal injection -- for now


MOBILE, ALA. --- The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a stay of execution for Alabama death row inmate Thomas Arthur, who for the second time since September came within a day of lethal injection.

The 65-year-old was facing lethal injection today, but the high court, in a one-paragraph order, blocked his execution until the court decides whether to review his lethal injection challenge.

That's not expected until the Supreme Court settles a lethal injection challenge in a Kentucky case. A ruling in that case is expected next year, and a stay for Mr. Arthur was expected by both sides.

Mr. Arthur was sentenced to death for the 1982 killing of Troy Wicker, 35, of Muscle Shoals.

His attorney, Suhana Han of New York, had argued for a stay, citing the Kentucky case. Mr. Arthur also had filed a lawsuit challenging lethal injection as cruel and unusual punishment.

The state's attorneys contended that Mr. Arthur had offered no proof of that claim and that he had waited too late to file it in court. Mr. Arthur's suit was rejected by a federal judge in Montgomery and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which led to the Supreme Court petition.

-- Associated Press