BIRMINGHAM (Reuters) - Alabama executed by lethal injection a death row inmate on Thursday who had been convicted of murdering his wife by shooting her at point blank range with a shotgun.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas briefly raised the hopes of Leroy White, 52, when he granted a temporary stay of execution shortly before White was due to die.
But hours later the Court denied the request for a stay and White died at 9.10 p.m. central time at Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, according to Brian Corbett, spokesman for Alabama department of corrections.
White murdered his estranged wife Ruby White in 1988 in a domestic dispute.
He shot her once and when she did not die immediately, he reloaded, picked up the couple’s 17-month-old daughter, and fired again. He also shot his sister-in-law Stella Lanier four times, court documents said.
No members of the victim’s family witnessed the execution, although two friends of White attended. White’s last meal was a cheeseburger from the vending machine plus a V8 juice, pork skins and a Yahoo drink, Corbett said.
White’s attorneys said their client had deserved more time for appeal because his previous lawyers did not notify him that a U.S. district court had turned down an appeal, which caused him to miss a crucial filing deadline.
White was executed “because he was too poor to get the legal assistance he needed at trial and thereafter for his post-conviction appeals,” said his lawyer Bryan Stephenson.
“This is a case where the trial prosecutors did not believe the death penalty was appropriate, the jury did not believe the death penalty was appropriate, and the victim’s family does not believe the death penalty is appropriate,” said Stephenson.
Court documents showed the trial jury recommended life without parole. Stephenson said Lanier had also pleaded with Alabama governor Bob Riley for clemency.
There were 46 executions in the United States in 2010 of which five were in Alabama, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Editing by Matthew Bigg and Peter Bohan