on death row
The Mississippi Supreme Court Thursday set execution dates for death row
inmates Larry Matthew Puckett and William Gerald Mitchell.
Meanwhile, in another death row inmate's case, the court said William Wilson
would be allowed to argue that his attorneys did not do a good job at trial.
The court set an execution date of March 20 for Puckett and March 22 for
Both men had appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court turned down in February.
The executions by lethal injection will be at 6 p.m. at the State Penitentiary
Puckett, 38, was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 for the sexual
assault and beating death of Rhonda Griffis, 28, of the Sunrise community in
Griffis was the wife of Puckett's former employer, David Griffis, who had fired
him. She was beaten to death with an ax handle in her mobile home. Mitchell,
61, was sentenced to death in 1998 in Harrison County for the killing of Patty
Milliken, a 38-year-old store clerk, on the night of Nov. 21, 1995. Authorities
said Mitchell took Milliken from the store where she worked, brought her under
the north end of the Popp's Ferry Road bridge and killed her by beating her and
driving his car over the top half of her body.
At the time, Mitchell was out on parole from a life sentence for the 1974
murder of Irene Edwards, also in Harrison County.
The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Mitchell's post-conviction petition.
Mitchell had sought a mental evaluation.
In Wilson's case, the court said Wilson could present evidence his attorneys
didn't do a good job and that he didn't understand what he was doing when he
agreed to let the judge decide his punishment rather than a jury.
Wilson cited 6 issues in a post-conviction petition filed with the Supreme
Inmates use a post-conviction petition to argue they have found new evidence,
or a possible constitutional issue, that could persuade a court to order a new
Wilson pleaded guilty in the death of 2-year-old Mallory Conlee and was
sentenced to death in 2007 in Lee County. He also received 20 years for
felonious child abuse.
At the time of the girl's death, authorities said they had received a report
that a motorcycle fell on the child's head. An autopsy showed bruises all over
her body and burns to her feet.
Authorities said the bruises were in several stages of healing, indicating they
had occurred over a time.
Court records show Wilson agreed to plead guilty in March 2007 in exchange for
a sentence of life without parole.
However, when questioned by Circuit Judge Thomas J. Gardner III, Wilson said he
thought his attorneys could have done a better job. Wilson claimed he hadn't
communicated or seen much of his court-appointed attorneys between his arrest
and his plea hearing. Gardner halted the hearing.
According to the court record, prosecutors withdrew the plea deal and the case
continued with Wilson and the same attorneys. Wilson again pleaded guilty and,
with no plea bargain, Gardner sentenced Wilson to death.