ATMORE, Ala. - As it stands now, convicted murderer Tommy Arthur is scheduled to be put to death Thursday at 6 p.m. Arthur has been on Alabama's death row for more than 30 years for the 1982 contract killing of a Muscle Shoals man.
With his execution just hours away now, a flurry of last minute appeals is all that stands between Arthur and his 7th date with the executioner. He has escaped six other dates with death as a result of various legal challenges and appeals. In fact, Arthur's challenge of Alabama's lethal drug injection protocol effectively stopped executions in the state for two years.
His attorneys asked the the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal court decision that denied Arthur's claims that the drugs the state would use amount to cruel and unusual punishment. That appeal was denied Wednesday evening.
His attorneys also filed a brief with the Alabama Supreme Court claiming Alabama's death penalty statutes are similar to Florida's, which were struck down as unconstitutional earlier this year. That appeal was also denied Wednesday.
Although Arthur maintains his innocence in the 1982 shooting death of Troy Wicker, he was convicted of the crime three times, by three separate juries. His first two convictions were overturned on technicalities.
Wicker's wife, Judy, served 10 years in prison for allegedly hiring Arthur to kill her husband.
Defense attorney William Hovater says her testimony sealed Arthur's fate.
“Yeah, that makes it mighty hard when she actually walks in and says yeah, he did it, you know, combined with other, other witnesses that, you know, provided circumstantial evidence surrounding the crime,” Hovater explains.
But Arthur says Judy Wicker lied in order to get out of prison. In a recent telephone interview, we asked him point blank if he killed Wicker.
“I did not, and I think I’ve told you that before. I did not. And I thought I knew who did but apparently I don't."
Arthur has already been moved to a special holding cell in anticipation of his execution.
Arthur was serving time at the Decatur Work Release Center for another homicide when he is alleged to have killed Wicker. He also escaped from the Colbert County Jail while he was awaiting trial, shooting a jail guard in the neck. He was later re-arrested in Knoxville, Tennessee after robbing a bank.
WHNT News 19 will have a crew at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama to cover the planned execution of Arthur. Watch for our updates on-air, online and on social media.