An inmate once called the "Houdini" of Alabama's death row for escaping seven past execution dates was put to death early this morning for a 1982 contract killing.
Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. this morning following a lethal injection, according to correctional authorities said. Arthur was convicted of killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot as he slept in his bed in Muscle Shoals.
Arthur's lawyers filed a flurry of last-minute appeals in a bid to halt the execution, but the U.S. Supreme Court opened the way for the execution to proceed shortly before 11 p.m. last night. The state prison system began administering the lethal injection drugs around 11:50 p.m. before Arthur’s death warrant expired at midnight.
The state of Alabama had set seven execution dates for Arthur between 2001 and 2016. All were delayed as a pro bono legal team fought his sentence.
Both the state of Alabama and Arthur's lawyers have pointed to his case as an example of what they see wrong in death penalty cases. Arthur's lawyer says they had sought DNA testing on hairs collected at the crime scene that was never performed. Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall says Arthur used perpetual litigation to avoid the death sentence for years.