Originally created 06/20/00

Justices reject appeal



The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected a last appeal for an Augusta man sentenced to death nearly 14 years ago.

Alexander E. Williams IV's attorneys immediately filed another state appeal Monday, and a hearing on that matter is set for July 6.

In August 1986, a Richmond County Superior Court jury convicted Mr. Williams and sentenced him to die for the murder of 16-year-old Aleta Bunch. The trial convened less than six months after Mr. Williams kidnapped the Beach Island teen-ager from the Regency Mall parking lot, robbed, raped and murdered her and left her body off Storey Mill Road near Hephzibah.

The state attorney general's office received Mr. Williams' newly filed state appeal Monday afternoon, spokesman Daryl Robinson said. Only one issue looked new, an allegation Mr. Williams' execution would violate an international treaty, he said.

Mr. Williams already has appealed his conviction and death sentence through state and federal appeals. The new appeal, filed in Butts County Superior Court, cannot succeed if any issue already has been litigated or should have been litigated in past appeals, Mr. Robinson said.

Mr. Williams' newest appeal was filed in Butts County because Georgia's death row is located there.

"We're now getting into these late-minute things," District Attorney Danny Craig said Monday afternoon.

Michael Mears, director of the MultiCounty Public Defender Officer of the state's Indigent Defense Council, said Monday that Mr. Williams' chances of avoiding execution are slim at this point. Mr. Mears said he also holds no hope that the renewed national debate over the fairness of the death penalty will affect Georgia.

"It's so political. I don't have a lot of hope a political resolution will come about anytime soon. No one wants to address the real issue - the death penalty just doesn't work," Mr. Mears said.

Mr. Williams, now 32, was 18 years old when he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death at the conclusion of a four-day trial. He did not testify at the trial, and his defense attorney, O.L. Collins, who has since died, called only two witnesses during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Ms. Bunch was a junior at Curtis Baptist High School when she disappeared March 4, 1986. From what family and friends pieced together, she stopped by the mall to pick out a birthday present for her mother. The teen-ager made the trip between school and her part-time job.

Her body was found March 15, 1986. She had been shot four times in the head and once in the chest. Neitherher 1984 Ford Mustang nor murder weapon, a .22-caliber gun, has been found.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226.