Appeals

Court spurns appeal by Arizona death row inmate – Graham Sanders Henry


april 10, 2014

PHOENIX (AP) — Saying that finality is long overdue, a federal appeals court is spurning the latest appeal on behalf of an Arizona death row inmate convicted of the 1986 killing of a Nevada man.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week refused to reconsider a previous ruling that turned down an appeal on behalf of Graham Sanders Henry.

The appellate court said it won’t reconsider Henry’s appeal because that would delay Supreme Court review of the case, including Henry’s convictions for what the court’s order called his “ghastly crimes” from nearly 28 years ago.

Henry was sentenced to die for killing Las Vegas-area resident Roy Estes. He was driven to the desert north of Kingman in Arizona’s Mohave County where he was stabbed in the heart and his throat cut.

Court to rehear appeal for Ariz. death row inmate – James Erin McKinney


March 14, 2014
PHOENIX (AP) — A federal appeals court is reconsidering an appeal filed on behalf of an Arizona Death Row inmate convicted of two killings during burglaries.

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September upheld a trial judge’s denial of James Erin McKinney’s challenges to his murder convictions and death sentences.

However, the San Francisco-based appellate court now says a larger panel of its judges will consider McKinney’s appeal.

The three-judge panel’s ruling said it didn’t matter much that McKinney was seated so he faced the jury while on trial with a co-defendant before separate juries. And it rejected his other challenges in the appeal.

McKinney was convicted in the 1991 killings of Christene Mertens and Jim McClain during separate burglaries in Maricopa County.

ARIZONA -9th Circuit denies all but 1 claim of Arizona death row inmate convicted in 1980 murder case


march 6, 2014

PHOENIX — A federal appeals court has denied almost all of the claims of an Arizona death row inmate who says he had ineffective counsel at his 1997 resentencing.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Wednesday remanded one claim of 53-year-old Scott D. Clabourne to a Tucson federal court.

That was Clabourne’s assertion that his lawyers at resentencing failed to object to the court’s consideration of his confession to police.

Clabourne was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of a 22-year-old University of Arizona student.

Authorities say the New York woman was raped, strangled and stabbed in the heart on Sept. 18, 1980. Her naked body was dumped in an arroyo, where it was found the following day.

Clabourne was first sentenced to death in 1983.

 

On the evening of September 18, 1980, Laura Webster left work with some friends and went to the Green Dolphin, a Tucson bar frequented by students from the University of Arizona. Sometime around midnight, she left the bar with three strange men. The next morning, Webster’s naked body was found lying in the dry bed of the Santa Cruz River. Wrapped in a bloody sheet, Webster had been strangled with a blue and white bandana, then stabbed to death. She had also been severely beaten, and traces of semen were found in her mouth, rectum and vagina.

The Tucson police got their first break in the case almost a year later when a woman named Shirley Martin reported that her former boyfriend, Scott Clabourne, had made several statements inculpating himself in a homicide. Clabourne was in custody on an unrelated burglary charge at the Pima County Jail, where he was interviewed by Detectives Bustamante and Reuter of the Tucson Police Department.

Clabourne gave a detailed, taped confession to the rape and murder of Laura Webster. According to Clabourne, he and two other men, Larry Langston and a man Clabourne called “Bob” (later identified as Edward Carrico), went to the Green Dolphin to “get some women.” Langston convinced Webster to leave the bar with them by promising to take her to a cocaine party Clabourne was purportedly hosting; instead the three men took Webster to a house Langston had been taking care of for a friend. The three men forced Webster to remove all her clothes and to serve them drinks. They then raped her repeatedly over the course of several hours. Though a much larger man than Langston, Clabourne claims to have been afraid of Langston; he also claims to have been intoxicated. Langston was the instigator, and he “made” the others take part. At the end of the night, Langston instructed Clabourne to kill Webster, and Clabourne obeyed: He strangled Webster with a bandana he carried, and then stabbed her with a knife.

Three days after Detectives Bustamante and Reuter interviewed Clabourne, a criminal information was filed charging Clabourne with first-degree murder, kidnapping and sexual assault. Lamar Couser was appointed as Clabourne’s counsel. Couser brought a pretrial motion to suppress the confession, which was denied. He also moved for a hearing to determine Clabourne’s competency to stand trial, but the state called two psychiatrists to testify that Clabourne was not so mentally impaired that he would be unable to assist in his own defense. The court found Clabourne competent.

Clabourne was tried alone. 1 The prosecution relied primarily on Clabourne’s taped confession, but also introduced evidence of other incriminating statements Clabourne made after the murder. Shirley Martin testified that Clabourne had admitted committing the crime on several occasions (although his accounts were not consistent). Barbara Bailon, who worked at the Salvation Army halfway house, testified that Clabourne had confessed to killing a girl. Scott Simmons, a Pima County Jail Corrections officer, testified that Clabourne had told him about the crime before giving his taped confession. And a second corrections officer, Dale Stevenson, testified that he overheard Clabourne tell another inmate, “Yeah, I raped her. She didn’t want it but I know she liked it.”

The state also introduced testimony to corroborate Clabourne’s confession. Shirley Martin testified that the blue and white bandana found tied around Webster’s neck was similar to one that belonged to Clabourne. The owner of the house where the rape and murder occurred identified the sheet in which Laura Webster’s body had been found and testified that the mattress on one of her beds had been turned over to conceal large stains. And Webster’s friend Rick Diaz identified Clabourne as one of the men who had left the Green Dolphin with Webster.

Couser raised an insanity defense. However, he called only one witness: Dr. Sanford Berlin, a psychiatrist who had treated Clabourne several years previously at the University of Arizona Medical Center. 2 Couser did not contact Dr. Berlin until the week of trial. Perhaps for that reason, Dr. Berlin was not prepared to testify as to Clabourne’s mental state at the time of the murder; he could only surmise that Clabourne might be suffering from a mild form of schizophrenia. The state put two psychiatrists on the stand to testify that Clabourne understood the nature of his actions and the difference between right and wrong, and that he was legally sane at the time of the murders. Couser cross-examined the state’s experts, but put on no other witnesses.

Clabourne was convicted on all counts,3 and a sentencing hearing was held before Judge Richard N. Roylston, who had also presided at trial. Judge Roylston found that the offense was committed in an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner, an aggravating circumstance under Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. S 13-703(F)(6). 4 Couser argued that Clabourne should not be sentenced to death because he was mentally impaired at the time of the offense, but he put on no evidence at the sentencing hearing, relying on the evidence presented at the guilt phase of the trial. Judge Roylston concluded that Clabourne’s “capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law was impaired but was not significantly impaired.” Judge Roylston did not consider this evidence sufficiently compelling to be a mitigating circumstance under Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. S 13-703(G)(1),5 and in any event found that whatever mitigating effect Clabourne’s impairment might have had was outweighed by the cruel and depraved manner in which he had committed the offense. 6 Judge Roylston sentenced Clabourne to death.

Arizona death-row case to get unusual 13th look by high court – Richard hurles


february 20, 2014, (azcentral)

WASHINGTON – When the Supreme Court’s justices sit down Friday to consider which cases to hear, one appeal will be familiar – an Arizona murder case that the justices have taken up the last 12 times they met.

Experts say it is unusual for the justices to consider one case 13 times in a row – so far – at their regular case conference without turning it down or agreeing to hear it. And while they say no one can know for sure, they have several theories why Ryan v. Hurles has been hanging around since before the court’s current term started in October.

“Twelve is a long time,” said Dale Baich, an assistant federal public defender in Arizona. “I don’t recall seeing a case held over for that many times.”

The petition to the Supreme Court is the latest twist in the 22-year case of Richard Hurles, who killed Buckeye librarian Kay Blanton in 1992 when he stabbed her 37 times as she worked alone in the library. He was convicted in 1994 of burglary, attempted sexual assault and first-degree murder, and sentenced to death.

Hurles has filed repeated appeals since then, getting to the point that a death warrant was issued in 2000 before it was stayed.

Among the claims in his latest round of appeals is a charge of judicial bias against trial Judge Ruth Hilliard. Hurles had asked that Hilliard – the judge at both his trial and his sentencing – not be allowed to consider his second post-conviction review.

But that request was denied by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Eddward Ballinger. Hilliard then denied Hurles’ second petition, a decision that was affirmed by the Arizona Supreme Court.

But the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed and in January 2013 a three-judge panel of that court ordered an evidentiary hearing into Hurles’ bias claim.

The Arizona attorney general’s office appealed that ruling last summer to the U.S. Supreme Court, which first put Hurles’ case on its conference calendar Sept. 30. It has put the case on every conference calendar since then, 12 so far, without deciding whether or not to hear it.

“We really don’t know why the case is being held,” said Baich.

But he, like others, offered several possible explanations: The court could be waiting for a decision in a different case to be resolved first, it could be writing an opinion, or a justice, or justices, might be writing a dissent should the case get rejected.

“This is pure speculation on my part,” Baich said. “There could be a number of reasons.”

Amy Howe, editor for the U.S. Supreme Court blog SCOTUSblog, said it is also possible that a justice might be rewording the petition. Or it could just be that the four votes needed to issue a writ of certiorari – agreeing to hear the case – are not there yet and justices are trying to pick up that fourth vote.

Paul Bender, a law professor at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, said the delay is most likely caused by the court waiting to see a 9th Circuit decision on a similar case that “might resolve the issues in this case.”

The Hurles’ case is “an issue that they’re potentially interested in, but whether they’re really going to take it depends upon what the 9th Circuit did and what the state’s going to do after that,” Bender said.

Howe said despite the theories, there will be no way of knowing the reason for the delay until after the court has either granted or rejected the appeal.

“You just don’t know until you actually see what’s happening,” she said.

FLORIDA – Carlie Brucia’s killer appeals death sentence – Joseph Smith


february 5, 2014 (mysuncoast.com)

Carlie BruciaSARASOTA, Fla. – The man convicted of killing 11-year-old Carlie Brucia in 2004 is appealing his death sentence to Florida’s Supreme Court. 

Joseph Smith was found guilty of the 2004 kidnapping, sexual battery and murder of the young girl in Sarasota County.  Smith’s attorney claims a number of errors in his trial led to his death sentence.

Florida’s Supreme Court judges will hear the argument Wednesday.  Smith’s appeal requests a new trial or penalty phase.

This is the second appeal for Smith, who is currently on death row in a Tallahassee prison

 

 

Carlie Brucia

Texas AG: New tests don’t clear death row inmate – HANK SKINNER


November 14, 2012

New DNA testing in the case of a Texas Panhandle man on death row for a New Year’s Eve triple-slaying doesn’t support an alternate theory of the crime, the state attorney general’s office said Wednesday.

Hank Skinner once came within an hour of execution for the 1993 killings of girlfriend Twila Busby and her two grown sons in Pampa, about 50 miles northeast of Amarillo. Now 50, Skinner’s execution has been stayed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Both his attorney and prosecutors agreed in June to new DNA testing of evidence.

The attorney general’s office filed a court advisory Wednesday that says new testing “does not support Skinner’s claim that an alternative suspect is the real killer.”

Skinner has argued he wasn’t the killer because he was passed out on a couch from a mix of vodka and codeine. The AG’s advisory says traces of Skinner’s DNA were located in blood in the bedroom where one of Busby’s sons, Randy Busby, was found stabbed to death. Prosecutors said his DNA also was matched to blood stains throughout the house.

Skinner attorney Rob Owen objected to Wednesday’s advisory, calling its findings premature. In a statement, Owen said it was “troubling” that the AG’s office submitted a report while testing was still ongoing. The AG’s office says both sides are discussing whether to conduct more tests.

We will remain unable to draw any strong conclusions about whether the DNA testing has resolved the stubborn questions about Hank Skinner’s guilt or innocence until additional DNA testing has been completed, and the data underlying that DNA testing has been made available to our experts for a detailed review,” Owen said in the statement.

While Skinner’s DNA was found on the handle of a bloody knife on Twila Busby’s front porch, Owen said the handle also had genetic material from two other people: Busby’s other slain son, Elwin Caler, and a third person other than Skinner or the victims. Owen said an unknown person’s DNA also was found on the carpet of the sons’ bedroom.

Skinner has acknowledged he argued with Busby on the night she was killed and that he was inside the house where the victim’s bodies were found. He was found about three hours after the bodies were discovered, hiding in a closet at the home of a woman he knew. Blood from at least two of the victims was found on him.

The attorney general’s office had argued against DNA testing, which Skinner’s trial attorneys did not request, but changed course. The state agreed to allow testing of a list of 40 items, though not a windbreaker jacket Skinner’s advocates consider crucial to establishing an alternate suspect’s guilt.

Justice is debatable in Texas death penalty case – Larry Swearingen


November 12,2012 http://www.dw.de

Larry Swearingen faces imminent execution in Texas for a crime that forensic scientists say he could not have committed. His time is running out.

Larry Swearingen at the visitors center on Death Row (Allen B. Polunksy Unit, Texas)

In his 12 years on death row, Larry Swearingen’s execution date has been set three times. Three times he has known when he will be strapped to a stretcher and put down with drugs: sodium thiobarbital to anesthetize him, pancurium bromide to paralyze his muscles and potassium chloride to stop his heart.

In January 2009, he had written his goodbyes and was on his way to the chamber when the stay of execution came through. “The way I had to look at it was ‘I’m just gonna lay down and go to sleep,'” he said. “I wasn’t gonna grovel. I wasn’t gonna sit there and cry. I can’t be remorseful for a crime I didn’t commit.”

Swearingen lives at the Allan B. Polunsky unit, an hour or so north of Houston, together with around 300 men and women awaiting execution for capital crimes committed in Texas. He is kept in solitary confinement 24 hours a day, in a cell not quite four meters long (13 feet) and a little over two meters wide, with a slit above head height, more a vent than a window.

Swearingen is strikingly calm, his voice rarely rising, even as he complains about the injustice of being locked up for a murder that forensic science shows he cannot have committed. “It’s not easy being here,” he says. “There are men who are hanging themselves, men who are cutting themselves, men sitting in their own feces, men slowly losing their minds. If people think it’s easy they are sadly mistaken.”

supporters of the death penalty argue that the USA’s appeals system is so thorough that no innocent person has ever been executed.

In recent years, that faith has been shaken by a number of high-profile cases. Todd Willingham was executed in Texas for setting the house fire that killed his two young daughters, despite several of the country’s most prominent arson investigators testifying that the blaze almost certainly started by accident. Troy Davis went to the chamber in Georgia for shooting a policeman, despite a lack of DNA evidence and seven out of the nine prosecution witnesses later changing their stories.

Swearingen’s case is different, in that forensic science provides him with an alibi: He cannot have raped and murdered his supposed victim, because he was already in prison when she was killed.

Open-and-shut case?

Melissa Trotter disappeared on December 8, 1998. Swearingen was one of the last people to see her alive, at Montgomery College. Three days later police picked him up on outstanding arrest warrants for minor offences, put him in jail and began to build a case against him.

Trotter’s body was discovered on January 2, 1999, in the Sam Houston National Forest, by hunters looking for a lost gun. At first glance, they thought it was a mannequin, dumped in the woods. She was wearing jeans, but her torso was naked. She had been strangled with one leg of a pair of tights. A search team, with cadaver dogs, had passed within 20 meters of the spot a fortnight earlier and found nothing.

At the autopsy, with the district attorney and two of his sheriffs in the room, Harris County’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Joye Carter, estimated that she had been dead for around 25 days, which meant she had been killed the day she went missing.

When Carter repeated this at the trial, the defense team let it pass unchallenged. Jurors heard that Swearingen had a history of violence towards women, that he had repeatedly lied to police, that hairs forcibly removed from Trotter’s head were recovered from his truck and that the other leg of the pair of tights used to kill her was found in his house.

They were not told that the tights appeared during a fourth police visit to the property, after three prior searches had turned up nothing. The DNA under Trotter’s fingernails, belonging to somebody other than Swearingen, was dismissed as a contaminant – perhaps a drop of blood from a cut in a forensic technician’s hand.

The jury took less than two hours to find Swearingen guilty.

Science vs. the courts

Dr. Stephen Pustilnik, chief medical examiner for nearby Galveston County, says the autopsy results aren’t credible. Although there were signs of decomposition around Trotter’s head, her corpse was in remarkably good condition.

For many days, where she was found, it was 72 degrees Fahrenheit [22 degrees Celsius],” he said. “If you’re at that temperature for three days, you’re green, bloated and stinky. Her internal organs look beautiful.”

At the morgue, her heart, liver, lungs and spleen were remarkably intact.

Pustilnik said the body could not have been dead for 25 days. Several other forensic scientists called by the defense team have come to the same conclusion. It means that Swearingen could not have killed Trotter, because he was already in jail when she died.

Final hearing

I returned to Montgomery County for Swearingen’s final evidentiary hearing. The case has been going back and forth between Judge Fred Edwards and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) for years: Each time, Edwards has upheld Swearingen’s conviction and each time the appeals court has granted the defense one more hearing. This was categorically his last.

Swearingen sat with his defense team, feet shackled together, wearing a striped Montgomery County Jail jumpsuit. In the pews on the right, behind the district attorney’s table, Sandy and Charlie Trotter were surrounded by supporters holding pictures of Melissa. They are convinced Swearingen is guilty and need him to be gone, so they can grieve in peace. Sandy handed me a photograph of her daughter, but was too upset to talk.

The benches on the left were empty, apart from a couple of local newspaper reporters and a frail-looking woman taking notes. Pam Martinez, Swearingen’s mother, attended every day of the hearing, even though she had recently had heart surgery for the second time.

“My cardiologist tells me that I need to cut the stress out,” she said. “I would like to cut the stress, but I support my son. He’s my child and I want to protect him.”

‘Innocence doesn’t matter’

This time, too, Judge Edward upheld the conviction. Now the case goes back to the TCCA. If the panel again upholds Swearingen’s conviction, he will have run out of options. His “actual innocence” petition to the Supreme Court has been denied. Any further appeals will be summarily rejected. A new execution date will be set and, barring an unprecedented last-minute pardon, he will be taken to the execution chamber at Huntsville and put down.Swearingen knows his chances are slim. “Under federal law in the United States being innocent does not matter,” he said. “If being innocent makes no difference, this country is no better than Iran or Syria, these third-world countries that kill their own citizens. How can being innocent not matter?”

The TCCA’s ruling is expected in the coming months.

Daylong hearing set in death sentence appeal – Michael Addison


November 13, 2012 http://bostonglobe.com

The state’s only death-row inmate will have his day in court — all day — when the New Hampshire Supreme Court hears arguments pertaining to his sentence.

Michael Addison was sentenced to death for fatally shooting a 35-year-old Manchester police officer, Michael Briggs, in 2006, when Briggs tried to arrest him on robbery charges.

The justices in Addison’s case will be deliberating the death penalty for the first time in more than 50 years — deciding, among other things, whether Addison’s sentence is just or was a product of passion or prejudice.

The justices will hear arguments in the case beginning Wednesday morning, holding four blocks of hearings that are scheduled to end at 3 p.m.

Court observers say the daylong hearing on Addison’s conviction and death sentence is unprecedented. A typical hearing before the justices lasts half an hour.

If his sentence is upheld and carried out, Addison — now 32 — would be the first convict executed in New Hampshire since 1939.

Former chief justice John Broderick, now dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, said the court, on occasion, has granted more time for arguments.

‘‘But an entire day? I don’t know of another case where that’s happened,’’ Broderick said.

Attorneys for Addison have raised 22 issues, with everything from the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty statute to the political ambitions of Kelly Ayotte, a former attorney general and current US senator, in their appeal.

Addison’s lawyers want the court to vacate his death sentence and order a new sentencing hearing. They stress that jurors determined Addison shot Briggs to evade arrest, but rejected the state’s argument that he shot Briggs with the intention of killing him.

Before Addison’s case could reach this point, the state Supreme Court first had to fashion the method it would use in weighing the fairness of his death penalty.

Addison’s lawyers argued his case should be compared with all other death penalty cases in this state and others, to test whether racial bias or other factors influenced his sentence. Addison is black; Briggs was white.

The only other New Hampshire capital case in decades to reach the penalty phase was that of John Brooks, who was convicted of plotting and paying for the killing of a handyman he suspected of stealing from him. A jury spared him a death sentence in 2008 — the same year Addison was sentenced to die.

But the court ruled in October 2010 that it would compare his death sentence with cases ­nationwide in which a police officer was killed in the line of duty.

The court stressed, in its 41-page ruling, that comparison cases do not have to precisely mirror the details of Addison’s case.

‘‘Ultimately, no two capital murder defendants are alike,’’ the ruling states. ‘‘Perfect symmetry and uniform consistency are not possible under a statutory scheme that requires juries to make individualized sentencing decisions based upon the unique circumstances of a case, given the nature of the crime and the character and background of the defendant.’’

Doctor says veins of obese Ohio inmate condemned to die inaccessible, injection unlikely- Ronald Post


November 8, 2012 http://www.mcall.com

COLUMBUS, Ohio  — A condemned killer fighting his execution because of his extreme weight does not have accessible veins in his arms or hands and could not receive a lethal injection in his legs because he is so obese, a doctor said in a court filing.

Death row inmate Ronald Post wants a federal judge to stop his January execution on the grounds his weight could cause him to suffer severe pain during the procedure. The state opposes the request.

Ohio attorneys had criticized an earlier filing by Post based on an analysis by a doctor who didn’t examine him.Thursday’s filing sought to counter that opposition by presenting the affidavit of a doctor who extensively examined Post and interviewed him about his medical history.

It is “highly unlikely” that an IV could be placed in Post’s legs and “extremely unlikely” that veins could be found in his hands, Ohio State medical center anesthesiologist Sergio Bergese said in affidavit dated Oct. 31 and filed Thursday.

Post also has scars on his left and right forearms from a suicide attempt that make his veins inaccessible for an IV, Bergese said. Post weighs more than 400 pounds, the doctor said. (400 pounds=181 kg )

He said Post reported he has provided some blood samples in the past only after great difficulty. Bergese said providing blood samples is no guarantee that an IV could be inserted.

Post, 53, is scheduled to die Jan. 16 for the 1983 shooting death of Helen Vantz in Elyria.

Vantz’s son, Bill Vantz, has called Post’s arguments “laughable.”

Post argues his weight, vein access, scar tissue, depression and other medical problems raise the likelihood his executioners would encounter severe problems.

Post’s attorneys also want more time to pursue arguments that claims of a full confession by the inmate to several people have been falsely exaggerated.

Post has tried losing weight, but knee and back problems have made it difficult to exercise, according to his court filing.

Post’s request for gastric bypass surgery has been denied, he has been encouraged not to walk because he’s at risk for falling, and severe depression has contributed to his inability to limit how much he eats, his filing said.

__

PENNSYLVANIA- EXECUTION TODAY 11/08/2012, Hubert Michael Jr. STAYED


NOVEMBER 8, 2012 http://www.yorkdispatch.com

Just hours before his scheduled execution Thursday, death-row inmate Hubert Lester Michael Jr. was granted a stay of execution.

His attorneys filed two last-minute appeals with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, one of which resulted in the stay.

York County District Attorney Tom Kearney expressed disappointment with the ruling, saying the time to execute Michael is “long overdue.”

“This case has been up and down the legal ladder for 20 years,” he said. “There needs to be some finality, in the interests of justice. It’s about time the decision of this community is carried forth.”

Michael is represented by the Federal Community Defender Office in Philadelphia. His attorneys have declined interviews, but released a statement

Trista Eng

Thursday afternoon from Helen Marino, chief of the office’s capital habeas unit:

“On behalf of Hubert Michael, we are extremely pleased that the federal Court of Appeals has granted (him) a stay of execution. Mr. Michael has suffered from debilitating mental conditions throughout his life. Mr. Michael has compelling legal claims in his case which have never been reviewed by any court. The Court of Appeals recognized that there are complicated issues involved in this case that should be carefully considered.”

Last stop: Kearney has said the Third Circuit Court of Appeals was Michael’s last chance to avoid being put to death for the 1993 kidnapping and murder of 16-year-old Trista Eng of the Dillsburg area.

The Third Circuit granted the stay based on Michael’s appeal of Wednesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III.

Jones declined to stay the execution, writing:

“This court is disinclined to exercise its reservoir of discretion simply because the petitioner has now changed his mind. … The case law simply doesn’t support such a result.

“Indeed, to grant the relief requested by the petitioner would make the case a monumental example of the seeminly endless and oft-criticized federal habeas practice. Over 19 years after the heinous murder the petitioner has admitted committing, it is time to draw this affair to a close.”

The Third Circuit issued the stay because it wants to know why Jones granted Michael a “certificate of appealability” when he refused to grant Michael a stay and refused to reopen Michael’s habeas corpus appeal proceedings, according to Kearney.

The Third Circuit also noted parties should be prepared to litigate all their issues at one time.

No clemency: Shortly after 3 p.m. Wednesday, the state Board of Pardons unanimously denied Michael’s request for clemency.

Kearney said the time has come to execute Michael.

“If a sentence is to mean anything, then it must be carried out.” he said. “If it’s the will of the community, we need to follow through, or else it’s meaningless.”

13 years: Michael, 56, formerly of Lemoyne, had been scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Thursday.

He would have been the first murderer put to death in Pennsylvania in 13 years, and the fourth inmate executed since 1972, when the state reinstituted the death penalty.

It’s the third death warrant Pennsylvania governors have signed for Michael. The first two were in 1996 and 2004. Both times, his execution was stayed pending further appeal.

For years, Michael maintained he wanted to die, but he changed his mind in 2004, just days before his scheduled execution.

Attorneys with the Federal Community Defenders Organization in Philadelphia have argued he was not mentally competent when he pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on Oct. 11, 1994, and didn’t challenge his death sentence.

Mental-health issues: Court filings indicate Michael suffered from mental-health issues while he was held in Graterford state prison, but that those issues improved when he was transferred to Greene state prison.

Now that his mental health has improved, Michael is fighting his death sentence.

Second denial: On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane also refused to grant Michael a stay of execution.

She is presiding over Chester v. Beard, a lawsuit filed six years ago on behalf of a number of Pennsylvania’s death-row inmates. It claims the state’s method in obtaining the drugs used for lethal injection is unconstitutional.

While Chester v. Beard remains active, Kane made a specific ruling in Michael’s case, denying his request for a stay.

Michael’s attorneys appealed both rulings to the Third Circuit, which denied a stay of execution for Michael in the Chester v. Beard class-action lawsuit.

The background: Michael told his former defense attorney, chief public defender Bruce Blocher, he went to the Franklin Township home of Eng and her mother to answer an advertisement about a chair for sale.

He told Blocher that when Eng answered the door in a Hardee’s uniform, he made the decision to force her to have sex with him. While there, he stole some electrical cords from the house, the attorney previously testified.

Michael stopped to offer Eng a ride as she was walking along Route 15 to her job at the Dillsburg Hardee’s on July 12, 1993. She accepted, and Michael kidnapped her.

At some point during the ride, Michael stopped the car and used the electrical cords to tie up Eng, then drove her to state game lands in Warrington Township, according to Blocher.

Raped: He raped her, put a bag over her head and shot her three times, Blocher has said, then hid her body in a wooded area.

Blocher revealed details of Michael’s confession to him when called to the stand during a 1997 appeals hearing in the case.

Michael fled the state 10 days after killing Eng. At the time, he was free on bail for a Lancaster County rape charge.

Captured: He was captured July 27, 1993, in Utah, at which point police found the murder weapon in the car he was using, officials said.

He was charged with Eng’s homicide in late August 1993, after her body was found by his family members after Michael confessed the murder to his brother.

In November 1993, Michael escaped from Lancaster County Prison but was captured in New Orleans in March 1994, according to the Department of Corrections.

He was later sentenced to 10 to 20 years for the Lancaster County rape, according to court records.