U.S. high court won't hear death row inmate's appeal

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal from Mississippi death row inmate Terry Pitchford, who was convicted of killing a Grenada storekeeper in 2004.

It is the fourth time since March that the nation’s high court has refused to hear an appeal in a capital punishment case from Mississippi. Its decision on Pitchford came without comment Monday.

Pitchford, now 25, was 18 when he was charged with killing Grenada County store owner Ruben Britt. He was convicted in 2006 and sentenced to death.

Prosecutors said Britt was shot multiple times inside Crossroads Grocery in 2004. Prosecutors said one of the murder weapons was Britt’s own gun, which he kept at the store for protection. They said Britt’s gun was found in Pitchford’s car when he was arrested.

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond Monday to a question about whether it would ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to set an execution date for Pitchford. The Mississippi court upheld Pitchford’s conviction in 2010.

The Mississippi court is already considering execution dates for three other death row inmates — Robert Simon Jr., Rodney Gray and Benny Joe Stevens.

Earlier this month, the court ordered the release of Simon’s medical records related to an alleged fall that defense attorneys contend has rendered Simon incompetent to be executed.

Simon was sentenced to death for the killings of three members of a Quitman County family. He got a life sentence in the death of a fourth family member.

Gray’s attorney has asked for more time to file appeals and for a delay in the April 27 execution date sought by the state. The Mississippi court has not yet ruled on the request.

Gray was sentenced to death in 1996 for the 1994 rape and murder of 79-year-old Grace Blackwell of Louin.

Attorneys for Stevens filed their response this past week to Attorney General Jim Hood’s petition to set a May 4 execution date for Stevens.

Stevens was sentenced to death in 1999 in the slaying of four people in the Foxworth community in Marion County. Among those killed were Stevens’ former wife and their 11-year-old son. Stevens’ 16-year-old daughter was wounded but escaped from the mobile home.