Alabama man convicted of 1982 murder set to be executed today

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama inmate who was convicted in the 1982 killing of a man in a murder-for-hire arrangement is scheduled to die Thursday.

Tommy Arthur, 74, was convicted of killing Troy Wicker as he slept inside his Muscle Shoals home. Wicker’s wife initially said she had been raped and an intruder killed her husband, but she later testified she had sex with Arthur and paid him $10,000 to kill her husband.

She also testified that Arthur, who is white, wore a wig and makeup to disguise himself as an African-American man when he shot her husband.

Arthur is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday. The execution is scheduled after years of appeals for Arthur, who once asked a jury to give him the death penalty but has avoided it for decades.

Juries twice convicted Arthur, but those convictions were overturned on appeal. During his third trial in 1991, Arthur ignored the advice of his attorneys and pleaded with the jury to convict him on the capital charge and sentence him to death. He said he didn’t have a death wish, but it was a way of opening more avenues of appeal.

Arthur has maintained his innocence through the years.

The Alabama Supreme Court has six times set an execution date for Arthur, but he won reprieves each time. Alabama’s governor stayed Arthur’s execution in 2007 – hours ahead of when it was scheduled to occur- for 45 days to allow new lethal injection procedures to take place. Another stay came in 2008 after another man confessed to the crime and his attorneys sought DNA testing on the wig. A judge later said there was no evidence to back up the man’s claim.

The Alabama attorney general’s office in July had asked the court to set an “expedited seventh execution date” after a federal judge dismissed Arthur’s most recent challenge to state death penalty procedures.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday refused to stay the execution after he challenged Alabama’s death penalty procedure as unconstitutional. His attorney plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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