34 years on death row
Tommy Arthur, a 75-year-old Alabama inmate sentenced to death in 1983 for murder, is facing his eighth execution date Thursday evening. Seven times before — in 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2016 — he's been slated to sit down for his last meal, only for his execution to be delayed after his legal team won appeals.
Arthur has been accused of two murders: He served five years for the second-degree murder of his wife's sister, but he's maintained his innocence in the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker, for which he was sentenced to death. Arthur's lawyer has argued that "neither a fingerprint or a weapon, nor any other physical evidence" ties Arthur to the murder.
Arthur's case has become a flash point for people on all sides of the death penalty, The New York Times reported. "People who simply want the execution are unhappy because of the passage of time," said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "People who oppose the death penalty are unhappy because they don't want Tommy Arthur executed. People who want fairness are unhappy because, despite the length of time this case has been in the courts, the process has never been fair."
Arthur said his oldest daughter "came to six execution dates, and the stress of her father about to be killed was so traumatic it damaged her heart." She did not come to his seventh execution date and she was not originally planning to come to his eighth, scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. Arthur isn't bothering with requesting a last meal either. "I don't believe in that last meal baloney — I never have the appetite. When they're trying to kill you, you're not hungry," he said.
Arthur's lawyers are fighting for another delay, but The New York Times reported that Arthur "allowed that his case might be near its end." On Friday, the day after Arthur's eighth execution date, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is slated to sign a measure that would shorten death penalty appeals.