News 01.06.09

Alabama Man Still Pursuing Evidence for DNA Testing

The Tuscaloosa News reports that Thomas Arthur's attorneys are still pursuing DNA tests to prove his innocence in a 1982 murder in Alabama.

Arthur, who faces execution for the murder of Troy Wicker, has been on Alabama’s death row for a quarter century. Last September, the Alabama Supreme Court delayed Arthur’s execution and said the state must wait for the Jefferson County Court to rule on the DNA testing claim before it can set an execution date. Last fall, the state claimed that evidence in the case is missing – the first time the state has made such a claim, even though Arthur has been requesting DNA testing on the evidence for years. Arthur's attorneys are requesting a thorough, state-wide search for the evidence, which has not been conducted.

Although there was no DNA evidence used in the original, largely circumstantial prosecution, Arthur's attorneys are asking the state for a rape kit of the victim's wife, Judy Wicker, which was collected after the murder.

“The invaluable role of DNA testing in this case cannot be seriously disputed,” [attorney Jordan] Razza wrote. “This court should therefore direct the state to undertake a thorough search, and to the extent that it is still unable to find the rape kit, Mr. Arthur requests discovery relating to this issue.”

Attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell represent Arthur; the Innocence Project is assisting in the case. Arthur's attorneys also want the court to listen to a confession made by inmate Bobby Ray Gilbert, who confessed to the murder of Troy Wicker. He also said he had sex with Judy Wicker on the day of the crime.

Judy Wicker initially told police that a man broke into her home, raped her and killed her husband. Police did not believe her, and she was convicted of killing her husband. Only then, in a deal for a reduced prison sentence, did she change her story and claim that Arthur committed the crime. DNA testing could show that her initial story was true, or it could show that Gilbert’s confession is accurate.


Read the full story here

. (Tuscaloosa News, 1/5/09)

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