Originally created 08/05/99

Inmate again seeks death for his crime



Georgia death row inmate Ernest Morrison has changed his mind once again, reverting to the position that he wants to be executed for an Augusta murder.

In letters to the latest Augusta Judicial Circuit judge who presided over his case and to the prosecutors who convinced a Richmond County Superior Court in March that Mr. Morrison is not mentally retarded, Mr. Morrison wrote that he wanted to drop all appeals.

"I Ernest Ulyesses Morrison EF 215392 death row inmate here by drop all appeals asking for execution date set for the murder of Edna Mary Griffin," Mr. Morrison, 39, wrote in a letter addressed to Assistant District Attorney Nancy Johnson.

Senior Judge Bernard J. Mulherin Sr., who presided over the mental retardation trial in March, signed orders Tuesday and Wednesday that set an Aug. 18 hearing to set an execution date and an order requiring prison officials to return Mr. Morrison to Augusta for the hearing.

In 1987, Mr. Morrison pleaded guilty to all charges, waived a jury trial on the issue of punishment and asked the judge to sentence him to death. Two years later, Mr. Morrison allowed defense attorneys to file an appeal on his behalf.

District Attorney Danny Craig said Wednesday that Mr. Morrison has the right to drop all appeals. But Georgia law mandates an automatic direct appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court of every death sentence, which further complicates the case.

Mr. Morrison's attorney, Gary Alexion of New York, could not be reached for comment late Wednesday.

Sandy Hodson covers courts for The Augusta Chronicle. She may be reached at (706) 823-3226 or shodson@augustachronicle.com