US Supreme Court halts execution

THE US Supreme Court suspended an execution, hours before it was to be carried out today, of an Alabama man condemned to death 22 years ago for killing his wife.

The nation’s highest court granted a temporary stay of the execution of 51-year-old Leroy White, according to Brian Corbett, spokesman for the Alabama Department of Correction. The court will review White’s appeal.

Earlier in the day, Alabama’s governor and state supreme court both rejected his appeals for clemency.

After spending 22 years on death row, White was scheduled to be put to death at 6pm local time (10am AEDT today) by lethal injection at the Holman prison in Atmore.

White was 29 years old in October 1988, when he fatally shot his wife because she wanted a separation. He also shot and wounded his sister-in-law.

White’s lawyers said that he didn’t have adequate representation and should have had the opportunity to plead guilty to get life without parole, in order to avoid the death penalty.

The family of the victim opposes the execution, according to White’s lawyer, Bryan Stevenson. White’s daughter, Latonya White, was just 17 months old when her mother was gunned down.

“For a long time I was very angry with my father for taking my mother away from me,” she wrote to the court. “I now have a very close relationship with my father. I am deeply opposed to my father’s execution. Executing my father will do nothing to bring my mother back.”

Two executions have been carried out in the US since the start of 2011, after 45 last year and 52 in 2009. In Alabama alone, 203 prisoners are on death row.

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