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Old 05-12-2004, 11:12 AM
DeniseJJ DeniseJJ is offline
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Post Federal judge orders halt to Perkins execution

Federal judge orders halt to Perkins execution



By AARON BEARD
Associated Press Writer




RALEIGH, N.C. - A federal judge has ordered a halt to plans to execute a death-row inmate convicted of raping and killing a 7-year-old girl.

Sammy Perkins, 50, was scheduled to be executed May 21 for the death of Lashenna "Jo Jo" Moore, but U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle ordered a stay that was filed Tuesday while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a case that challenges the constitutionality of lethal injection for some inmates.

"It is clear that an execution cannot be permitted, where the possibility of further review by a higher court and a different outcome remain," Boyle wrote.

Perkins was one of four death-row inmates who filed a petition in January seeking to prevent the state from carrying out or scheduling their executions, saying lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The other inmates were Raymond Dayle Rowsey, George Franklin Page and Kenneth Bernard Rouse. Rowsey was executed in January.

Boyle stayed Page's scheduled March execution while the Supreme Court considers the case involving Alabama death-row David Larry Nelson. Nelson contends that his collapsed veins would require prison officials to cut deep into his flesh to insert the needle, constituting cruel and unusual punishment.

A state judge stopped Rouse's execution, which was scheduled for last month, after his lawyers presented evidence that their client was mentally retarded.

The office of state Attorney General Roy Cooper office has chosen not to challenge those stays, deciding to wait instead for appeals courts to issue rulings that could clarify the issues. In the past, the state's lawyers would fight stays in high appeals courts nearly to the execution hour.

"Obviously we're very grateful that the stay has been entered," said Edwin West, a Wilmington-based attorney representing Perkins. "We believe that was this was the appropriate action for the court to take. The lethal injection procedure is one that must be scrutinized and reviewed."

Nora Hargrove, who is also representing Perkins out of Wilmington, said she spoke with her client Wednesday morning about the stay.

"He's greatly relieved," she said.

Keith Acree, a spokesman with the state Department of Correction, declined comment on the ruling.

During clemency hearings Tuesday, Perkins' attorneys asked Gov. Mike Easley to spare the killer's life because jurors improperly discussed the case before deliberations began. Perkins also suffered from bipolar disorder at the time of the April 1992 slaying of Lashenna in Greenville, West said.

Authorities said Perkins sexually assaulted the girl, who was his girlfriend's granddaughter, and smothered her with a pillow. He was sent to death row the following year.

West said two court officials in Perkins' trial told a judge that members of the jury had decided Perkins was guilty before beginning deliberations. When jurors were questioned individually, they denied that.

West said that Perkins should spend the rest of his life in prison. But Clark Everett, Pitt County's district attorney, and retired investigator Ricky Best both asked Easley to allow the execution.

"It's a horrible, horrible crime. This was a young girl, 7 years old, brutally raped and murdered in her own bed," Everett said. "If there was ever a case for the death penalty, this is it."

Last edited by DeniseJJ; 05-12-2004 at 11:13 AM.. Reason: removed ad
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