Execution Nears For Killer Of Panhandle Woman
FL (AP) -- A Vietnam veteran who drowned and strangled a Florida
Panhandle woman was set to be executed Tuesday unless the U.S. Supreme
Court intercedes like it did last week when it blocked the lethal
injection of another Florida inmate.
Arthur Rutherford, who was
set to be executed at 6 p.m. EDT, pressed his appeals to the Supreme
Court after a federal appeals court has turned him down late Monday.
week, the high court stayed the execution of Clarence Hill on an issue
Rutherford also has raised, that the state's lethal injection procedure
is cruel and unusual punishment.
"He is real anxious about the appeal," said Linda McDermott, one of Rutherford's lawyers.
She said four separate petitions were filed with the Supreme Court on Rutherford's behalf early Tuesday.
court judges rejected that argument for Rutherford on Monday, saying
the inmates' cases differ because Rutherford waited until the Supreme
Court had agreed to hear Hill's lethal injection appeal before he
raised his claim.
Rutherford, 56, was condemned for the Aug. 22,
1985, attack on Stella Salamon, whose head was found submerged in the
bathtub of her Milton home. Salamon had a broken arm, bruises on her
face and arms, and three severe head wounds. The medical examiner said
Salamon died from drowning or asphyxiation.
Salamon, a widow
from Australia, has hired Rutherford to do a series of odd jobs,
including replacing her sliding glass patio doors. She expressed
concern about him to her friends.
Police found Rutherford's fingerprints and palm prints in the bathroom where Salamon was killed.
his trial, two witnesses, Elizabeth Ward and her mother, Mary Heaton,
testified that Rutherford asked for their help in cashing a
check from Salamon's bank account. Rutherford forged Salamon's name on
the check and took Heaton to a bank, where she cashed the check.
Supreme Court granted Hill a last-minute stay of execution so the
justices can determine whether the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
in Atlanta erred by denying him a chance to appeal the lethal injection
Hill, 48, of Mobile, Ala., had fatally shot a Pensacola
police officer during a 1982 bank robbery. He was strapped to a gurney
with intravenous lines attached to his arm Tuesday when Justice Anthony
M. Kennedy granted a temporary stay. The full court the next day
extended the stay to give lawyers time to present their arguments.
However, an Indiana inmate failed in his attempts to press a similar issue early Friday and was executed.
for Hill and Rutherford contend that a cocktail of three chemicals used
by Florida and several other states can cause excruciating pain. A
study published in The Lancet medical journal
last year by a
University of Miami researcher found that a painkiller is likely to
wear off before a second chemical causes the inmate to suffer a heart
attack. The third chemical paralyzes the inmate so he cannot react to
or express the pain, according to the study.
The Florida Supreme
Court refused to grant Hill or Rutherford a trial court hearing to
present evidence on the issue, concluding that the study was
The state justices Friday also rejected Rutherford's claim that new evidence might exonerate him.
would be the 61st inmate executed in Florida since 1976, when
executions resumed after a 12-year moratorium, and the 257th since
1924, when the state took that duty from individual
Created: 1/31/2006 2:52:28 PM
Updated: 1/31/2006 3:32:20 PM
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