An Alabama criminal convicted of the brutal 2004 murder and robbery of an elderly couple is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection on May 30.  Ivana Hrynkiw of Huntsville Real-Time News reports that last week Chief U.S. District Judge Emily Marks rejected Jamie Ray Mills’ petition for a stay of execution noting that:

“The practice of filing lawsuits and requests for stay of execution at the last minute where the facts were known well in advance is ineffective, unworkable, and must stop.  The Court acknowledges that lawyers representing death row inmates set to be executed unquestionably owe a duty to their clients. However, these lawyers are also officers of the court. The act of filing a civil action and then a request for injunctive relief after unjustified delay often appears to be legal manipulation rather than genuine legal advocacy.”

Lawyers seeking to delay Mills’ execution are employed by the Equal Justice Initiative, a George Soros-funded group that seeks to overturn the death sentences of murderers. They have filed a last minute claim that challenges the state’s lethal injection process even though Mills chose that execution method over nitrogen gas, a painless alternative chosen by several other condemned Alabama murderers.  They also claim that the entire conviction was based on the testimony of Mills’ former common-law wife, who admitted that she accompanied him on the day he killed Vera and Floyd Hill.  The facts described in a 2008 Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals decision upholding Mills’ conviction and sentence thoroughly disprove that claim.

On the evening of June 24, 2004, the granddaughter of the Hills, drove to their home after trying to reach them several times by telephone.  When she arrived and found the house locked and nobody responding she called the police.  Officers found the bodies of both victims in a storage shed in their yard. Floyd Hill, 87, was dead. Vera Hill, 72, although suffering multiple head wounds, was alive. She died three months later from her injuries.

At trial a neighbor testified to seeing Mills’ car in the Hills’ driveway at the time of the murder.  When police interviewed Mills, he denied knowing the victims and claimed he was out of town on the day of the murders. In a separate interview Mills’ wife admitted being with him and witnessing the murders. A search of Mills’ car uncovered a bloody machete, a tire iron, hammer and blood stained men’s clothing.  They also found the tackle box that Mr. Hill used to store his diabetic wife’s medications, his wallet and her purse. The coroner testified that Vera died of blunt force trauma, which Floyd also suffered along with slashing injuries. A forensic scientist testified that DNA testing of the blood on Mills’ clothes and on the three weapons found in his car indicated that it belonged to the victims. The amount of money Mills stole from the Hills was approximately $140. Police confirmed that after the murders, Mills sold some of Vera Hill’s medications to a local drug addict.

Barring a last minute-stay of execution, Jamie Ray Mills will die a far more peaceful death that he inflicted on Floyd and Vera Hill.

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