Dear Governor Riley,
I am concerned that
the State of
Alabama has set a new execution
date in the case of Thomas Arthur despite the fact that
there has been no DNA testing in the face of serious doubt
about his guilt. Arthur was sentenced to death for the
murder of Troy Wicker in 1982, yet maintains his innocence.
Arthur was first charged with the murder of Troy Wicker in
1982. He was
convicted and sentenced to death twice, but both times his
conviction was overturned because of improper admission of
Wicker, Troy Wicker’s wife, was also convicted of the murder
and she was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1982.
Arthur’s third trial in 1991, the state’s main witness was
Judy Wicker whose testimony the prosecution sought in return
for assistance with her parole bid. Judy Wicker was paroled
about a year after Arthur’s 1991 retrial after serving 10
years in prison. In
an apparent conflict of interest, the prosecutor of this
second retrial had been Judy Wicker’s attorney in the
negotiations for her testimony.
her own trial, in 1982, Judy Wicker had testified that
Thomas Arthur was not involved in the murder, but at
Arthur’s 1991 retrial, she told a substantially different
story, testifying that she and two others hired Arthur to
commit the murder.
physical evidence linked Thomas Arthur to the crime. Hair
samples and fingerprints from the crime scene were tested,
but did not match Thomas Arthur’s. He was convicted solely
on disputed circumstantial evidence and the testimony of
Judy Wicker, who clearly committed perjury, either during
the 1991 retrial or during her own trial, and who testified
in exchange for assistance with her parole bid.
months, Thomas Arthur has been seeking to have modern DNA
testing conducted on various pieces of evidence related to
the crime, including Judy Wicker’s bloodstained clothing,
the rape evidence, and hair samples. To date, such testing
has not occurred.
While I have tremendous sympathy
for the family and friends of Troy Wicker, I find this case
extremely troubling, given the state’s reliance on the
testimony of a witness who clearly perjured herself at some
point, and given the huge disparities in sentencing, where
one defendant is sentenced to death while another serves
just 10 years, and two others implicated in the murder are
not even investigated.
Riley, as you may know, more than 100 wrongful convictions
in capital cases in the
USA have been uncovered
since 1977 and DNA testing has played a substantial role in
more than a dozen cases. I strongly urge you to demonstrate
your respect for justice and human life by doing everything
in your power to stop the execution of Thomas Arthur, and,
in order to obtain the truth, to ensure that the requested
DNA testing is allowed to take place. Thank you for your
time and attention to this serious matter.
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