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Alabama inmate loses appeal, will be executed Thursday

Tommy Arthur had received six stays of execution preventing his death sentence for the 1982 contract killing of his lover's husband.

By Stephen Feller
Tommy Arthur, pictured, lost an appeal to prevent his execution Thursday evening in Alabama. Barring a last minute stay from the state's governor or the Alabama Supreme Court, Arthur, who has been given six stays-of-execution in the last two decades, will be executed for the contract killing of Troy Wicker. Photo by Alabama Department of Corrections
Tommy Arthur, pictured, lost an appeal to prevent his execution Thursday evening in Alabama. Barring a last minute stay from the state's governor or the Alabama Supreme Court, Arthur, who has been given six stays-of-execution in the last two decades, will be executed for the contract killing of Troy Wicker. Photo by Alabama Department of Corrections

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Tommy Arthur has avoided execution six times since he was convicted of murder more than 30 years ago, but with a federal court denying his request for a stay it appears he will be put to death Thursday evening in Alabama.

Arthur made last minute appeals for a stay of execution to the state's governor, Robert Bentley, as well as the Alabama Supreme Court, after the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied his claims that he did not commit the murder and that the method of execution -- injection of a three-drug cocktail -- was inhumane and violates the U.S. Constitution.

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Arthur has been in prison since 1983 for the contract killing of Troy Wicker, the husband of a woman he was having a relationship with. Wicker's wife testified during one of his three trials that she paid $10,000 for Arthur to kill her husband.

"During 1982 to 1992, Thomas Arthur was thrice tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for Wicker's murder. After his third death sentence in 1992, Arthur for the next 24 years has pursued, unsuccessfully, dozens of direct and post-conviction appeals in both state and federal courts," Circuit Judge Frank Hull wrote in the opinion. "After thorough review, we conclude substantial evidence supported the district court's fact findings and, thus, Arthur has shown no clear error in them."

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At the time, Arthur was already on work release from his 1977 conviction for murdering his sister-in-law. The murder conviction for Wicker's death in 1983 made him eligible for the death penalty. Wicker's conviction for the murder was twice overturned, in 1985 and then again in 1987.

Arthur was finally convicted for the third time in 1991, when he asked the jury to recommend the death penalty because it would widen the type of appeals he could file.

Judy Wicker served 10 years of a life sentence for paying Arthur to kill her husband, while Arthur has spent the last 34 years appealing the conviction and the death sentence. During the last three decades, he has received six stays of execution for a variety of reasons, several of which were based on challenges to the state's method of execution.

Bentley said Wednesday he had not yet made a decision on whether to grant a last-minute stay to Arthur, who is scheduled to be executed Thursday at 6 p.m.

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