The state Supreme Court has again delayed the execution of Thomas Arthur, who was convicted of the 1982 contract killing of Troy Wicker Jr. The decision came in the wake of dueling affidavits, one from another inmate confessing to the crime and another from the victim’s wife, who put out the contract, swearing Arthur was the killer.
Initially, Judy Wicker said an intruder raped her and killed her husband. She had injuries consistent with her story, and investigators collected a rape kit along with other evidence. Nonetheless, she was accused of having her husband killed for insurance money, convicted of murder, and given a life sentence. Only later did she accuse Arthur, with whom she was having an affair at the time of the murder. In exchange for her testimony, prosecutors recommended parole, and she was released from prison after 10 years. Arthur, who has admitted to a previous murder, has always denied this one. (For some background on the case, see here and here.)
Arthur’s lawyers have been pushing for some time now to have DNA tests run on the rape kit, contending that the results could indicate that another person was present at the time of the murder. OTOH, if the DNA is a match for Arthur, it would certainly bolster the case against him. Prosecutors have refused to run the tests, and the governor has refused to order them to do so (there’s some dispute as to whether or not he has that authority). Today, we find out that the state has lost the evidence in question, so, unless someone finds it — or perhaps “finds” it — the testing will never happen.
I’m curious. Just how long has the state known the rape kit was missing? Yes, this case is 26 years old. Evidence could have been misplaced or discarded long before the tests were requested. But given the high profile coverage over the past year or so, I’d think someone would have checked on it before now. So was it lost in the sands of time, or did it disappear recently?
And if it does turn up, would the state just run the damn tests already?