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Suicide by Court

Roger Alford, Associated Press

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Associated Press

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) – A Kentucky judge on Tuesday denied a request for an injunction that could have halted Friday’s scheduled execution of a confessed child killer who has asked for lethal injection.

Marco Allen Chapman has fired his attorneys and is awaiting execution at the Kentucky State Penitentiary at Eddyville.

Franklin County Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd said granting an injunction to stop the execution at the request of unrelated citizens and taxpayers “would violate the requirements of fundamental fairness” to Chapman and to relatives of his victims.

“In these highly unusual circumstances, Mr. Chapman has expressed the desire to cease any further legal challenges to the implementation of the death penalty,” Shepherd wrote in his six-page decision. “This court, in a separate legal proceeding, has held that he has a right to do so.”

Attorney Philip Longmeyer had argued that the Kentucky Department of Corrections should have held public hearings before adopting regulations that specify how lethal injections are administered. David Smith, a lawyer for the state attorney general’s office, said public hearings weren’t necessary because state law spells out the procedure.

In his ruling, Shepherd said Longmeyer had failed to show how denying an injunction would cause immediate and irreparable injury to anyone other that Chapman, who objects to trying to halt his execution.

Longmeyer said Tuesday he is weighing legal options.

“An appeal is a possibility,” he said. “We haven’t decided that yet.”

Clergy from the Kentucky Council of Churches have urged Gov. Steve Beshear to commute Chapman’s death sentence to life without parole. Beshear said he has seen no extenuating circumstances that would convince him to take such an action.

Chapman, 36, was sentenced to death in 2004 after dismissing his defense attorneys and pleading guilty to the murders of two children in the northern Kentucky town of Warsaw. Chapman asked for the death penalty, but public defenders continued to file motions on his behalf until last week.

One of those motions, asking for a stay of execution, is pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court, which is in session this week. The motion was filed last month before Chapman was found mentally competent to order his public defenders to stand aside. It is unclear whether justices will consider that motion.

His defense team had argued that seeking to be executed is like trying to commit “suicide by court,” and they questioned Chapman’s mental competency.

Dr. Michael Harris, a Louisville psychiatrist, testified last week that Chapman is mentally competent, and Special Judge Roger Crittenden ruled that Chapman could order his attorneys to stop trying to halt his execution.

Chapman has said delaying his execution would “drag out the misery” for himself and the family of his victims.

If the execution is carried out, Chapman would become the first Kentucky inmate put to death since 1999.

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The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.
Suicide by Court