Thursday, September 27, 2007

Arthur Thomas Updates

We have two updates regarding the execution of Arthur Thomas. The first is a press release from Alabama Governor Bob Riley.



Governor Riley Issues 45-Day Stay of Execution

MONTGOMERY – Governor Bob Riley granted a brief stay of execution to Thomas Arthur, a death row inmate who was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The Governor made the decision to grant a stay of 45 days and met with Commissioner Richard Allen of the Alabama Department of Corrections on Thursday morning.

“The evidence is overwhelming that Thomas Arthur is guilty and he will be executed for his crime. The decision to grant a brief stay is being made only because the state is changing its lethal injection protocol, and this will allow sufficient time for the Department of Corrections to make that change,” Governor Riley said. “It
is my desire that, as soon as the stay has expired, justice will be administered to Thomas Arthur. I have encouraged the Attorney General to make a motion with the Alabama Supreme Court for a new date of execution as soon as possible.”


Second is an editorial published on September 25, 2007 by The Birmingham News.

Riley fails test, again

THE ISSUE: Once again, Gov. Bob Riley has refused to order DNA testing that could shed light on a death-penalty case. This is a pattern that needs to be broken.

Unless courts step in or something else intervenes, the state of Alabama will execute Thomas Arthur. This much we know: That something else won't be Gov. Bob Riley.

For the second time in as many months, Riley has refused to delay an inmate's execution to allow for DNA testing that might shine light on the crime.

Riley's refusal is beyond disappointing, and it's beyond logic. The testing could have been ordered two weeks ago without even requiring a delay of the execution, according to the Innocence Project.

While there is some evidence implicating Arthur of involvement in the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker, there are certainly reasons to wonder if the crime went down as prosecutors claim. Even Wicker's family wonders what really happened and has expressed support for DNA testing that could shed some light on Wicker's death.

"I would like to see this evidence subjected to DNA testing," Peggy Wicker Jones said in an Aug. 21 statement. "I would like to have as much information as possible about what happened on the day my brother Troy was murdered."

The Innocence Project, the famed New York organization whose DNA work has cleared more than 200 inmates across the country, doesn't take the position Arthur is innocent. But it does argue the evidence in Arthur's case should be subjected to the best scientific testing available.

DNA testing, which had not been developed when Arthur was tried, might merely confirm his guilt. But it might also implicate someone else, someone who has so far not been held accountable for the slaying. Either way, it's a win.

Governors in other states have ordered DNA testing in similar death penalty cases. Among them was a former Texas governor named George W. Bush, as well as his brother, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

But not Riley.

In a statement criticizing Alabama's governor, the Innocence Project pointed out that 15 of those cleared nationwide by DNA testing were on Death Row and that some of them were days away from execution when they were exonerated.

"If any of those 15 people had been in Alabama, they would be dead today," Innocence Project co-director Peter Neufeld said last Wednesday.

Neufeld called it "unconscionable" that Riley won't insist on using the best science to determine the truth before putting inmates to death. Neufeld is right.

Before inflicting a punishment that can't be undone, the state of Alabama should be eager to order DNA testing in cases where any biological evidence is available. Indeed, such testing in old cases should be available by law, as it is already in 42 states.

Unfortunately, in Alabama, the test rests in the hands of the governor. Once again, Riley has failed that test.

1 comment:

Sherrie Stone said...

Thomas Arthur's executon has been re-sceduled for July 31, 2008.
My father will be the first inmate executed witout his first Habeas Corpus Review. The United States Supreme Court just ruled June 12 that suspected foreign terrorist have a right to Habeas Corpus Reviews. But a United States citizen does not? He also does not have the right to DNA test crime scene evidence that could prove he was never at the crime scene. State says"well he filed his paper work late" State says "well he has exhausted all his appeals". Truth is the appeals have never been heard. Oh lets not forget you are not entitled to an attorney in Alabama, so my fathers paper work was late, he was not provided or entitled to an attorney. Alabama Governor Riley refuses to DNA test the evidence stating it will prove nothing. He also said it was not a law and he did not have the authorioty to order such testing. That is a flat out lie.
Go to his web site at and sign the petition to demand Governor Riley DNA test the evidence.

The following is a PRESSS RELEASE THAT WENT OUT 07-07-08:



Allowing the State of Alabama to execute Thomas Arthur in the full knowledge that strong doubt
exists concerning the certainty of his guilt, doubt which could be resolved with DNA testing,
amounts to nothing less than murder.

Thomas Arthur was convicted of the killing of Troy Wicker on the basis of evidence supplied by
the victim`s wife. She initially claimed a stranger other than Arthur, had broken into her home,
raped her and killed her husband. She was charged and convicted of the murder. In eight sworn
statements, she stated that Arthur was in no way connected with the crime. However, after ten
years in prison for her husband`s murder, she altered her story and overturned her previous
testimony. Presumably in an attempt to secure an early release from prison, she stated that
Arthur had indeed had sex with her and that he had been the killer.

This was the only testimony against Arthur. At the time of the murder, several pieces of
evidence were collected from the crime scene and preserved. Performing DNA testing on these
items would determine the validity of the testimony given by this witness. The Innocence
Project, a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully
convicted people through DNA testing, have stressed that the remaining existing biological
evidence in Arthur`s case does meet the criteria for DNA testing and will prove conclusively his
innocence or guilt. In the course of 16 years they have exonerated 218 people from wrongful
conviction and stand resolutely behind the need for certainty in this case. Along with the
Innocence Project, Amnesty International, The Vatican and thousands of United States Citizens
and organizations have called, e-mailed or written to Governor Riley of Alabama urging him to
conduct this testing immediately so that once and for all Arthur’s involvement can be determined.

Yet despite this repeated soliciting and petitioning, Governor Riley has held firm to this day
refusing to allow DNA testing which could resolve this case. This casts serious doubt on his
concern for the truth, and consequently on the value he places on human life and his
commitment for a government which is accountable and ethical. DNA testing can do one
important thing: It can prove Thomas Arthur’s innocence and it can prevent the state from
erroneously executing another innocent man. If we define justice as a principle of moral
rightness, of impartiality, of conformity to truth, fact, or reason, how can we reconcile Governor
Riley`s refusal to order DNA, his refusal to want the truth, as anything less than morally

A recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court determined that suspected terrorists have a
right to this review, Thomas Arthur, a United States Citizen, does not. This constitutional right
was denied to him when the Supreme Court determined in November 2007 that DNA testing on
crime scene evidence in his case could not be conducted.

Every United States Citizen has a right to a Habeas Corpus Review. Yet Thomas Arthur, whose
execution date has been set for July 31st 2008, has lost this right because he is guilty of having
filed his Habeas Corpus appeal too late, beyond the one year time limit. As a consequence, his
appeals have never been heard or reviewed at either a Federal or State level, his claim of
innocence remaining unheard. The State of Alabama has determined that he has exhausted his
appeals, when in truth no appeals in this case have ever even been heard. Alabama’s legal
process does not entitle inmates to an attorney during post conviction appeals; and because
most cannot afford a legal representative to act on their behalf as Arthur could not, they are
automatically condemned by their own ignorance, to filing papers beyond designated time limits.

For something which we can only consider a bureaucratic timeline, Arthur has been unable to
introduce evidence collected by an investigator which would cast extremely serious doubt on his
presence at the murder scene and on other significant details. But perhaps what is more
important is that it does not allow for the facts of that night to emerge. One of the pivotal points
in Arthur`s defense involves shedding light on the inherently untrustworthy testimony of his only
witness. DNA testing and its reliability could determine conclusively the validity of these claims.
It is considered universally to be not susceptible to reasonable dispute, the one answer to the
uncertainties which have emerged in this case.

It would be natural then to assume that such a test would be invaluable, essential in determining
the guilt of a man on death row who is in the fight for his life. Yet this is not what is happening.
For whatever reason, Governor Riley will not allow DNA testing to be performed on this
evidence. If we question his behavior and motives, we can only conclude that they are
unconscionable and more than just a little unjustifiable with so much outcry for justice. Clearly he
has in his hands the tools to resolve this case, and he will not. His indifference is tantamount to
murder and his intentions far removed from the principles of justice as being impartial or fair.
What he is doing is morally reprehensible.

When we prepare to execute a man who is condemned not only to die but to function within a
system which does not concern itself with his true guilt or innocence, which puts bureaucracy
above the value of human life refusing testing on DNA which could exonerate him and save him,
we have to ask ourselves what mockery are we making of justice? Liberty is a precious gift, one
which must be diligently guarded from those who would take it from us, and Governor Riley is
deliberately refusing the possibility of liberty for a man who can be proven innocent. Lady
Justice is blindfolded for a reason.

For all press inquiries please contact:

Sherrie Stone
Director of Communications
Telephone: 813-293-9139
Fax: 813-907-3513

For information:

Dianne Abshire
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Ottawa, OH 45875
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Giuseppina Branca
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Gloria Colonnello
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Sissel Egeland
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