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Man convicted of killing carnival boss executed in Alabama

Michael Wayne Eggers (Photo ADOC)

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — A man convicted of killing the woman who hired him to work with a traveling carnival nearly two decades ago was executed Thursday night after dropping his appeals and asking to be put to death.

Michael Wayne Eggers, 50, died at 7:29 p.m. CDT after receiving a lethal injection at a southwest Alabama prison.

He declined to give any last words, but briefly gave a thumbs-up signal to friends and family as the execution began. He was pronounced dead about 35 minutes after the death warrant was read.

Eggers was sentenced to death for the 2000 strangulation of his employer, Bennie Francis Murray. Prosecutors said Eggers admitted to strangling Murray during an argument after she hired him to work concessions for a traveling carnival. Her body was found in Walker County, northwest of Birmingham.

In 2016, following disagreements with his attorneys, Eggers dropped his appeals and asked Alabama to quickly schedule his execution. In a handwritten filing, he asked judges to allow his “immediate execution in the interests of truth, law and justice.”

His former attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. They argued that Eggers suffered from schizophrenia and delusions and was mentally incompetent when he made the decision.

“Michael Eggers is severely mentally ill,” his former attorneys wrote in a petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

His former attorneys argued that Eggers believed he was the subject of a government conspiracy and “would rather die than be represented by lawyers who do not support his delusional view of his case.”

Eggers opposed efforts by his former attorneys to stop the execution. The petition to the Supreme Court was made without his consent. A prison spokeswoman said Eggers requested that no attorneys be allowed to visit him, or witness the lethal injection. Eggers met with friends and family Thursday, but not attorneys.

The state attorney general’s office had asked the court to let the execution proceed.

The state argued that Eggers made a rational decision to drop his appeals. Lawyers for the state noted that the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017 upheld a district court’s ruling that he was competent.

After being notified that Mr. Eggers’ sentence had been carried out, Governor Kay Ivey released the following statement:

“When an execution is approaching, I thoroughly consider all elements of the crime committed, the procedural history of the case and any mitigating and aggravating factors which are present. With every execution, my goal is to ensure that the law is followed and that justice is ultimately served for all parties involved, including the accused and the victim.

“Mr. Eggers was convicted of brutally beating and then murdering Mrs. Francis Murray, who was simply trying to help him. The facts are clear, and Mr. Eggers admits, that he went to great lengths to ensure Mrs. Murray’s death and then to hide the evidence of his crime. His case has been reviewed at every level of the judiciary and has consistently been upheld, including Mr. Eggers’ own personal request to have his sentence carried out.

“After having considered Mr. Eggers’ wanton crime and all the factors surrounding his case, I determined it was best to allow the laws of this state to be followed and for the execution to be completed.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released the following statement:

“Michael Eggers showed no mercy towards his victim, his former employer, Bennie Francis Murray, who donated much of her personal time to helping him find a new job. On the night of her murder, Mrs. Murray gave Eggers a lift to pick up his car.  Instead of showing her gratitude, Eggers rewarded her kindness by brutally beating and strangling her.  He even returned to the scene of the crime to make sure she was dead.  After 18 years of waiting, justice has finally been served tonight for the Murray family.”