On Monday, April 13, 2009, EJI attorneys filed a motion asking the Alabama Supreme Court to stay the execution of Jimmy Dill, currently set for Thursday, April 16, 2009, because of unique and important problems in his case.
The State of Alabama determined even before Mr. Dill’s trial that the death penalty was not appropriate in this case. The State charged Mr. Dill with capital murder but offered him a sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole in exchange for a guilty plea. Mr. Dill did not understand the proposed agreement and rejected it. If his lawyer had fulfilled his duty to explain the misunderstanding, Mr. Dill would not be on death row.
Because Mr. Dill could not afford to hire a lawyer, he was represented by court-appointed counsel who could not be paid more than $1000 for out-of-court work on the case. At trial, Mr. Dill’s counsel presented no evidence on his behalf. The lawyer did not investigate Mr. Dill’s background and failed to present to the jury compelling mitigating evidence about Mr. Dill’s history of being abused as a child and the drug and alcohol addiction with which he struggled for many years.
Mr. Dill’s lawyer failed to use evidence showing that the victim died because his wife decided to deprive him of proper care. Leon Shaw, a drug dealer on federal work release, was shot in the back of the head and hospitalized. His condition improved and he was sent home, where he continued to recover until doctors said he no longer needed a feeding tube, which meant his wife had to feed him.
Mr. Shaw and his wife had an adversarial relationship, and she moved her boyfriend into their home while she was responsible for Mr. Shaw’s care and feeding. Nearly ten months after the shooting, Mr. Shaw died in the hospital, where he had been re-admitted due to severe dehydration and an infection traced to improper care. Mr. Dill’s lawyer did not argue or present evidence that Mr. Shaw’s death was caused by his wife’s failure to care for him.
EJI lawyers are asking the court to stay Mr. Dill’s execution and review these issues, which make his conviction and death sentence uniquely unreliable.