Originally created 04/15/04

Court denies stay of execution



AIKEN - Jerry McWee will likely become the first man convicted in Aiken County to be put to death in at least 42 years this week after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his application for a stay of execution Wednesday.

The court denied without comment an appeal of the South Carolina Supreme Court's earlier rejection of a stay, according to Mark Plowden, a spokesman for South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster.

An application to Gov. Mark Sanford for clemency is still pending, though it appears unlikely it will be granted. South Carolina governors haven't commuted a death sentence in 29 cases since the death penalty was reinstated in 1985.

"The governor is continuing to look at the materials put together by Mr. McWee's lawyers and his counsel," said Will Folks, a spokesman for Mr. Sanford.

Mr. McWee's lawyer, John Hardaway, of Columbia, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

Mr. McWee, 51, a former Augusta police officer and paramedic, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1994 for the July 1991 slaying of convenience store clerk John Perry during an armed robbery.

Prosecutors said Mr. McWee led Mr. Perry to the back of the store, where he was made to kneel and was shot twice in the back of the head with a .38 caliber revolver. The robbery netted $350 from a cash register.

Mr. McWee also was convicted in the shooting death of a former boss, roofing contractor David Willis, in an armed robbery a week after Mr. Perry's death.

A co-defendant in both cases, George Wade Scott, pleaded guilty and testified against Mr. McWee at trial. Mr. Scott is serving a life sentence.

Barbara Morgan, Aiken County's solicitor since 1990, said she could not recall an Aiken County defendant being executed in her 14-year tenure. Before 1985, the last execution in South Carolina was carried out in 1962.

Reach Stephen Gurr at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110, or stephen.gurr@augustachronicle.com.