Tomorrow, the State of Alabama plans to execute Tommy Arthur, who is 74 years old and has been on death row for 33 years. Alabama’s last execution was in January 2016.
Tommy Arthur’s case has been marked by a history of prosecutorial misconduct, the denial of adequate defense counsel, and questions of innocence. His first two convictions in the 1982 killing of Troy Wicker in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, were overturned on appeal because prosecutors introduced illegal evidence and made improper arguments at trial. After he was convicted a third time in 1991, he had no lawyer to challenge his conviction in state postconviction proceedings.
Alabama is the only state in the country without a state-funded program to provide legal assistance to death row prisoners.
In 2008, the Alabama Supreme Court stopped his execution so that that allegations of innocence could be considered.
Mr. Arthur has had six previous execution dates, several of which were stayed within two days of his scheduled execution.
His has been one of the lead cases challenging the propriety of Alabama’s lethal injection protocol. The execution of Christopher Brooks in January renewed questions about the efficacy of the drugs the state proposes to use in Mr. Arthur’s lethal injection. Mr. Arthur has pending appeals challenging the constitutionality of the scheduled execution in both state and federal court.