The state this evening plans to execute its ninth prisoner of the year — the most in one year since Georgia reinstated the death penalty more than 40 years ago — after the Board of Pardons and Paroles refused on Monday to stop it.
The only hope remaining for William Sallie is that a court will hear his appeal and stay tonight's execution.
This afternoon the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied Sallie's request for a stay of execution. His lawyers must now petition the U.S. Supreme Court, even though the high court previously turned him down.
Sallie, 50, is scheduled to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. for murdering his father-in-law in 1990.
As he waited on death row Tuesday afternoon, Sallie ate all of what he’d requested for his final meal — pizza — and visited with six family members, four friends, three members of the clergy and four paralegals.
Sallie’s lawyers, with help from the sister of Sallie’s mother-in-law, on Monday begged the Parole Board to do something the courts have thus far refused to do: stop the execution because a juror was so biased, she would have been disqualified from Sallie’s case had she not lied during jury selection.
“We’re hoping they will do the right thing,” attorney Jack Martin said after meeting with the board for 3½ hours.
Seven hours later, the board turned Sallie down. The board does not explain its decision.
Those who want to see Sallie's execution go forward also met with the board on Monday for about two hours in the afternoon. They declined to comment afterward.
In numerous filings, Sallie’s lawyers have tried to get a hearing on the issue of juror bias, which has not been argued in any court because Sallie missed a critical deadline to bring that appeal.
Martin said that deadline came at a time when Sallie did not have a lawyer, as Georgia law does not mandate that the state pay for appellate attorneys for death row inmates.
Martin said former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher told the Parole Board about Georgia’s history of not providing lawyers for condemned inmates.
Fletcher wrote an op-ed in the New York Times this week — "Georgia's dangerous rush to execution" — in which he talked about problems inherent in Georgia's application of the death penalty.
"A door that would have been open to Mr. Sallie in almost any other state was closed to him in Georgia," Fletcher wrote of the state's refusal to provide people with legal counsel. "If it were open, he would be able to present the facts about his trial, which appear to show serious problems with juror bias."
Martin also said the sister of Sallie’s mother-in-law told the five Parole Board members that she frequently visited Sallie at the prison after he asked for her forgiveness.
Sallie was convicted in Bacon County of murdering his father-in-law John Moore. He also shot and wounded his mother-in-law, Linda Moore, and kidnapped his estranged wife and her 17-year-old sister.
Sallie broke into his in-laws’ home — where his wife, Robin, and their 2-year-old son, Ryan, were sleeping — after he lost a custody battle and his wife filed for divorce.
Sallie’s lawyers wrote in the clemency petition and in a series of court filings that the domestic turmoil in William and Robin Sallie’s lives was much like that lived by a female juror who denied ever being part of a volatile marriage, custody dispute or relationship that included domestic violence.
During jury selection for Sallie’s murder trial, the woman said her marriages had ended amicably with “no big court fights” and without a “big custody fight or issue.”
Sallie’s lawyers wrote in filings that those claims were a lie.
They said the juror fought with soon-to-be ex-husbands over child custody and support payments and lived with domestic abuse.
The petition said the judge who presided over Sallie’s trial handled three of the juror’s four divorces that were marked by hostilities, allegations of lying to the court and multiple court filings.
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