U.S. Supreme Court halts execution of Leroy White for further review

Published: Thursday, January 13, 2011
Al com

ATMORE, AL — The U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution of Leroy White this evening just moments before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection.

The court issued a temporary stay, under order by Justice Clarence Thomas, until it could finish reviewing the details of the appeal, said Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Corrections.

White, 52, was convicted of murder in the Oct. 17, 1988, shotgun slaying of his estranged wife, Ruby White, at her northwest Huntsville home.

White will remain in a holding cell adjacent to the execution room at Holman Prison in Atmore until the Supreme Court gives further instruction, Corbett said.

White would be the fourth person from Madison County – and first since 1998 – executed since the state took over executions from the counties in 1927.

White’s request for clemency was denied this afternoon by Gov. Bob Riley.

White’s attorneys have argued that White did not receive good advice from his trial attorney who advised him not to take a plea deal that would have meant a life sentence without parole.

Attorney Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Montgomery-based Equal Justice Initiative, said the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take up a similar case, related to advice regarding plea deals, and its outcome should have a bearing on White’s case.

Stevenson has also argued that the victim’s family has asked that White not be executed and the jury in his case recommended a life sentence.

White has had several appeals rejected including one by the Alabama Supreme Court earlier today.

EJI Wins New Trial for Alabama Death Row Prisoner Lamar Killingsworth

On December 30, 2010, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed Lamar Killingsworth’s conviction and death sentence, ruling that his right to an impartial jury was violated because a biased juror was allowed to serve on the jury that convicted him.

Before Mr. Killingsworth’s trial, a juror told the court that she knew family members of the victim in the case and that she could not be fair. She told the court that she was a teacher with the victim’s mother and father, and that the victim’s brother was her veterinarian. In response to questions, she said that she could not put aside her relationships with the victim’s family and listen to the evidence fairly, and that she would be biased. Nevertheless, she was allowed to serve as a juror at Mr. Killingsworth’s capital trial.

EJI lawyers argued at the Alabama Supreme Court that Mr. Killingsworth’s trial was unfair for many reasons, including that the fact that a biased juror was on the jury that convicted him.

The Alabama Supreme Court agreed and held that the Mr. Killingswowth’s right to an impartial jury was violated and that under Alabama law he is entitled to a new trial.