Georgia death row inmate makes last-ditch bid to stop imminent execution

webnexttech | Georgia death row inmate makes last-ditch bid to stop imminent execution

On Tuesday, members of a Georgia clemency panel will decide the fate of a death row inmate who is set to be executed later this week. Willie James Pye, 59, has been on death row for the last 28 years after being convicted of the kidnap, robbery, rape and murder of 21-year-old Alicia Lynn Yarborough back in 1993. Last month, the state’s Office of the Attorney General set his execution date. He is now scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 7pm ET on Wednesday at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. His execution will mark the first carried out in Georgia in four years. Pye has requested a last meal of two chicken sandwiches, two cheeseburgers, french fries, two bags of plain potato chips and two lemon-lime sodas. However, his legal team is fighting to spare his life, filing a recent clemency application seeking a stay in his execution. Pye’s attorneys have argued that he must not be executed for his crimes because he is intellectually unstable and feels remorse. The application for Pye’s clemency is based on several points: that his intellectual disability makes him ineligible for execution; the “appalling” conditions of his childhood; his non-threatening behaviour toward corrections staff; some jurors on his trial do not want him to be executed; and that he feels remorse for his crimes. The attorneys also argued that the public defender at Pye’s trial “effectively abandoned his post, leaving no one and nothing, to stand between his client and death”. The application continued: “Had defence counsel not abdicated his role, the jurors would have learned that Pye is intellectually disabled and has an IQ of 68. They also would have learned the challenges he faced from birth – profound poverty, neglect, constant violence and chaos in his family home – foreclosed the possibility of healthy development. While the average person has an IQ between 85 and 115, Pye’s IQ is just 68 – something that his attorneys put down in part to his mother abusing alcohol while she was pregnant with him. “This is precisely the kind of evidence that supports a life sentence verdict,” it added. The Georgia Parole Board is scheduled to reveal its decision on Tuesday. The board is the only authority in the state that can grant clemency to a condemned inmate. The board may decide to commute Pye’s death sentence to life with or without the possibility of parole, issue a stay or deny clemency altogether. US Supreme Court filings in connection with the case state that Pye, Chester Adams and Anthony Freeman robbed, kidnapped, raped and murdered Yarbrough back in 1993. At the time of her murder, the 21-year-old was living with her boyfriend – who was the father of her child – but had previously been in a romantic relationship with Pye. Her boyfriend signed her child’s birth certificate though Pye believed he was the father. Court documents say this angered Pye and – after finding out that Yarbrough’s boyfriend had received settlement money from a lawsuit – he and his accomplices planned to rob him, When the men arrived at the couple’s home, they found Yarbrough alone. Pye held the woman at gunpoint and kidnapped her. The men then went to a motel where they took turns raping her, the documents state. Afterward, they put Yarbrough in a car and left, eventually stopping along a dirt road. That’s where authorities say Pye told the woman to get out of the car, made her lie face down and shot her three times. Prosecutors tied Pye to the crime using DNA recovered from his victim’s body. Adams pleaded guilty to his involvement in the crimes in April 1997 and was handed five consecutive life sentences and is still behind bars. Freeman confessed to the crimes, took a plea deal and was the main witness at Pye’s trial.

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