U.S. Supreme Court rejects Alabama inmate’s death row appeal

Tommy Arthur
Tommy Arthur [Photo Credit: AP Photo]

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a chance to hear Alabama death row inmate Thomas Arthur’s latest challenge to his death sentence, denying Arthur’s petition to grant certiorari to hear his challenge over the State’s method of execution.

Arthur, first sentenced to death in the early 1980s, has outlived seven different execution dates. In November, the court issued a last-minute stay to block his execution.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the November opinion he did not believe the request “meets our ordinary criteria for a stay,” but granted it as a courtesy to his colleagues who requested him to do so.

“This case does not merit the Court’s review: the claims set out in the application are purely fact-specific, dependent on contested interpretations of state law, insulated from our review by alternative holdings below, or some combination of the three,” Roberts wrote at the time.

Of the court’s Tuesday decision, Roberts again says the challenge “does not merit the court’s review.”

Alabama’s new Attorney General Steven Marshall welcomed the high court’s decision.

“The long wait for justice may be nearing an end for convicted killer Thomas Arthur,” said Marshall.  “For more than 30 years he has fought to delay his execution for the 1982 cold-blooded murder of Troy Wicker of Muscle Shoals.”

He continued, “Today’s Supreme Court decision is the second in as many months denying Arthur’s legal challenges to his death sentence. For the family of Troy Wicker, there is hope that justice will soon be served.”

It is expected that Marshall’s office will seek an eighth execution date for Arthur, who continues to maintain his innocence.