Last week the US Supreme Court stayed the execution of Thomas Arthur pending its ruling on several cases challenging execution by lethal injection. The Birmingham News points out that this delay gives Gov. Riley yet another opportunity to order testing of DNA evidence in the case, something Riley has so far — and inexplicably — refused to do.
Arthur was convicted of the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker, at least in part based on the testimony of Wicker’s wife, Judy, with whom he was having an affair.
Judy Wicker was accused of paying Arthur to kill her husband for the life insurance. At first, she blamed the crime on an intruder who she claimed also raped her. She had injuries consistent with that story, and semen was present and collected along with other evidence.
Even so, she was convicted of the murder, and she was sentenced to life in prison. When prosecutors agreed to recommend parole, Judy Wicker changed her story and testified against Arthur. She got out of prison after 10 years. The prosecutor who recommended parole earlier had been a private attorney representing Mrs. Wicker.
The DNA evidence collected at the time was not tested because the technology wasn’t available. Now it is. Why not test it? Here’s what I said back in October:
…Thomas Arthur is not a nice person. He’s not an upstanding citizen. He had a prior murder conviction. He shot (but thankfully did not kill) a prison guard during an escape attempt before his final conviction. He shouldn’t get out of prison. But if he didn’t kill Troy Wicker, he shouldn’t die for it.
And if we, as citizens of this country, won’t demand that DNA evidence be evaluated before we carry out the ultimate penalty, well, that doesn’t speak too well of us as a society. “Kill ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out” may be good campaign strategy, but it’s a terrible way to run a justice system.
Even Troy Wicker’s sister has joined the chorus requesting DNA tests. She wants to be sure. Gov. Riley, give her what she wants. Remember your slogan for Amendment One? Once again, it’s time to “Do the Right Thing”.
Click here to contact Gov. Riley and ask him to order DNA tests in the Thomas Arthur case.