Death row inmate Tommy Arthur, who escaped a Decatur work-release program and
killed a Muscle Shoals man 30 years ago, is scheduled to die by lethal
injection March 29.
The Alabama Department of Corrections announced Thursday that the state Supreme
Court set Arthur’s execution date.
Arthur was sentenced to die in 1983 for the Feb.1, 1982, contract killing and
robbery of Troy Wicker Jr. in Muscle Shoals. Arthur, who grew up in Colbert
County, was scheduled to be executed 4 other times but has managed to avoid
Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw said Arthur, 69, has exhausted his
normal appeals, but he expects defense attorneys will file numerous challenges
seeking to halt the execution.
“His attorneys continue to file frivolous litigation, and I suspect they will
continue to file litigation right up until the execution is carried out,”
Crenshaw said. “I don’t expect any of the litigation they’ve filed so far to
hold up the execution.
“But he may not have used up all of his 9 lives. We will have to wait and see
2 motions filed by Arthur’s defense attorneys are pending before the U.S.
Supreme Court. One challenges Alabama’s method of administering lethal
injections. The other asks that a U.S. District Court judge be allowed to
review evidence from a confession made in 2008 by another inmate, who claims to
have killed Wicker. The confession came 3 days before Arthur was scheduled to
be executed on July 31, 2008.
In the confession, Bobby Ray Gilbert, who is serving life without parole for
another murder, claimed he had an affair with Judy Wicker, the victim’s wife,
and that she asked him to kill her husband.
During a 2010 hearing in Birmingham, Judy Wicker testified that she did not
know Gilbert and insisted that Arthur killed Troy Wicker. She testified against
Arthur during his appeal trials, too.
Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Teresa Pulliam called Gilbert’s claims
bogus after DNA testing of evidence taken from Wicker’s home failed to link
Gilbert to the crime. The testing also failed to link Arthur to the crime,
court officials said.
Gilbert and Arthur were inmates at Atmore’s Holman Prison before Gilbert was
transferred to another state facility.
The hearing was held in Birmingham because that was where Arthur’s last trial
was held. Arthur was convicted in 1987 after his initial conviction was
overturned on a technicality and convicted again in 1991 after the second
conviction was overturned.
In an emailed statement, defense attorneys Suhana S. Han and Jordan T. Razza,
expressed disappointment that an execution date was set for Arthur while they
continue seeking additional DNA testing of evidence used to convict him. They
contend additional testing would vindicate their client.
“We are deeply concerned that the Alabama Supreme Court has set an execution
date for Thomas Arthur without allowing further DNA testing of critical
evidence that could substantiate another man’s sworn confession to the murder
of Troy Wicker.
“Mr. Arthur has maintained his innocence for 30 years and now stands to die
despite significant doubts that remain about his culpability,” Han and Razza
wrote. “If the state of Alabama is certain that the right man will die,
agreeing to this limited request can only add to the legitimacy of its actions.
“There won’t be a second chance to get this right if Mr. Arthur is executed.”
Judy Wicker initially claimed an unknown intruder killed her husband.
After an investigation determined that Wicker had hired Arthur to kill him, she
was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. She later recanted her
initial statements to police and testified against Arthur after his 1st
conviction was overturned.
Judy Wicker was released from prison after serving 10 years.
On the day of the murder, Arthur, according to prosecutors, left the state work
release program in Decatur and drove to Muscle Shoals. He is accused of killing
Troy Wicker while he slept in exchange for $10,000.
(source: Decatur Daily)