Hearing sought on death row inmate's appeal

By The Associcated Press

JACKSON — The attorney general’s office and attorneys for inmate William Wiley have asked a federal appeals court for a hearing on Wiley’s effort to get his death sentence overturned.

Briefing in Wiley’s case was scheduled to end this week. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has not ruled on the request for oral arguments.

Wiley claims he is mentally disabled. A federal judge in Mississippi agreed with him.

The state contends it has been proven in lower courts that Wiley is not mentally disabled. It has appealed the district court judge’s decision that he was mentally disabled to the 5th Circuit.

Wiley has been on death row for 28 years. His appeal is among several from death row inmates pending before the 5th Circuit.

Mississippi executed three inmates in July — the most recent being Joseph Daniel Burns on July 21.

The attorney for another death row inmate, Frederick Bell, is preparing an appeal for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Wiley, now 56, was sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of a convenience store owner.

He was first convicted in 1982 for the killing and robbery of J.B. Turner, whose store was in the Mineral Wells community. Turner died from a shotgun blast, and his daughter was left blinded in the attack on Aug. 22, 1981.

Court records show Wiley confessed to waiting in the parking lot for his victims to close the store and then shooting and robbing them.

U.S. District Judge Allen Pepper Jr. ruled last November that Wiley should not be executed because he is mentally disabled.

Pepper discussed testimony that Wiley, even as a teenager, needed prompts to help get dressed and that he was discharged from the Army after just four months because he could not complete his training. Several tests also showed Wiley is mentally disabled, Pepper ruled.

Wiley’s attorneys contend such testimony and early test results were ignored in the trial courts in Mississippi.

The attorney general’s office said such testimony was irrelevant because Mississippi courts found Wiley was not mentally disabled.

Click video to hear audio