Sept. 26 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay in a Georgia man's execution late Tuesday.
The court announced the 6-3 decision to temporarily delay convicted killer Keith Leroy Tharpe's execution, which had been scheduled to take place three and a half hours earlier.
Tharpe is serving three sentences in the September 1990 shooting death of his sister-in-law, Jaquelyn Freeman, 29. The Georgia Attorney General's Office said he dragged Freeman out of a car, shot her once, pushed her into a ditch, shot her again and then drove off with his estranged wife, who he later tried to rape.
Tharpe's attorneys have lobbied courts to delay his execution, saying one of the jurors who convicted him was racist and that Tharpe is not fit to be executed because he is intellectually disabled, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
The Georgia Supreme Court this week decided not to hear Tharpe's appeal and a state parole board denied his bid for clemency.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch were the dissenting voices in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Tharpe's execution is only delayed until the court decides whether to hear his appeal.
"We're gratified the court understands this case merits thoughtful consideration outside the press of an execution warrant," Brian Kammer, one of Tharpe's attorneys, told the Journal Constitution.