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The Latest: High Court Lets Alabama Execution Go Forward

Thursday, 08 Dec 2016 08:50 PM

ATMORE, Ala. (AP) — The Latest on the scheduled execution of an Alabama inmate. (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said the planned execution of an Alabama inmate can proceed.

The court narrowly ruled Thursday evening that the execution could proceed. Four liberal justices said they would have voted to grant the stay, according to an order emailed by the court giving no further explanation.

Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday evening.

Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson, who was shot in the head during a robbery.

Smith's lawyers had asked the Supreme Court to halt the execution to review whether a judge should have been able to override the jury's recommendation and impose the death penalty. The jury had recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had delayed the 6 p.m. CST execution to consider the request. Prison officials said Smith's execution would be carried out later Thursday evening.

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6:15 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay of the scheduled execution of an Alabama man convicted of killing a store clerk more than two decades ago.

The stay came shortly before 45-year-old Ronald Bert Smith Jr. was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection Thursday evening.

A statement signed by Justice Clarence Thomas said the stay was ordered "pending further order" of the court. The stay was expected to give justices time to consider the inmate's request to halt the execution.

Further explanation of the court was awaited Thursday evening before the inmate's death warrant was to expire at midnight CST.

Lawyers had argued to the Supreme Court that a judge at Smith's 1995 trial had overridden a jury recommendation in imposing the death sentence, calling that fundamentally unfair. The jury had recommended a sentence of life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote.

Lawyers for the state had argued in court filings that the judge was in his right to impose the sentence he chose.

Smith was convicted of murder in the 1994 death of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson.

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4:50 p.m.

Alabama's governor says he won't stop Thursday evening's scheduled execution of an inmate convicted of killing a convenience store clerk.

Gov. Robert Bentley confirmed through a spokeswoman that he won't intervene but the aide declined further comment. Alabama governors have seldom intervened in past executions.

Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Thursday for his conviction in the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson. A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to death.

Smith's lawyers had asked the governor for clemency, arguing the judge's override of the jury was fundamentally unfair.

Smith's attorneys also made the same argument in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block the execution, but there was no immediate response from the court.

Smith had a final meal of fried chicken and French fries, took Holy Communion and visited with his parents and son on Thursday.

3:43 a.m.

Alabama is preparing to execute an inmate convicted in the 1994 killing of a convenience store clerk.

Forty-five-year-old Ronald Bert Smith, Jr. is scheduled to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. Thursday.

A jury recommended life imprisonment by a 7-5 vote, but a judge sentenced Smith to death.

Smith's attorneys asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution, saying a January ruling raises legal questions about Alabama's allowance of judicial override.

Smith was convicted in the 1994 slaying of Huntsville convenience store clerk Casey Wilson. Lawyers for the state said Smith pistol-whipped Wilson when he wouldn't open the cash register and then shot him through the head.

Smith's lawyers wrote in a clemency petition that Smith was a former Eagle Scout whose life spiraled downward because of alcoholism.

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