I am a man who has been on Florida's Death Row over 21 years, for a
killing I did not do. And the man who did the killing have been off death row about ten years.
Freddie Lee Hall
Melbert Ray Ford - Georgia Death Row - Scheduled Execution
Start : Tuesday 23 February 2010, 20:00
End : Tuesday 23 February 2010, 20:00
Melbert Ray Ford - Georgia Death Row - Scheduled Execution for February 24, 2010
Execution StayedThe Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Thursday(Feb. 18, 2010) granted condemned killer Melbert Ray Ford Jr. a 90-day stay of execution because the 5-member board has only 4 members.
Victims:Martha Chapman Matich, Lisa Chapman
The Crime: Ford was convicted of killing Martha Chapman Matich and her niece Lisa Chapman in what prosecutors say was a revenge killing. They say Ford began harassing her with phone calls after the couple broke up, and that soon he was telling friends he wanted to kill her.
According to court records, this is how the killings unfolded:
Enraged at his ex-girlfriend, Ford tried to enlist several friends in a plot to drive him to the Newton County convenience store where she worked so he could rob the place and then attack her. Each effort failed until he met Roger Turner, a 19-year-old who was out of a job and nearly penniless. Ford plied Turner with alcohol and the promise of thousands of dollars in cash, eventually persuading him to join the plot.
The two drove in Turner's car to Chapman's Grocery shortly after it closed on March 6, 1986. Ford leapt out, shot away the lower half of the locked door and entered the store while Turner waited in the car. He later said he heard only screams and gunshots while waiting for Ford, who would soon emerge with a bag of money, according to court records.
When authorities arrived, they found Matich lying dead behind the counter, shot three times. Chapman was discovered sitting on a bucket in a bathroom, shot in the head and having convulsions. She died shortly after.
The 2 men were arrested the next day, and Turner confessed to authorities. Ford, meanwhile, told investigators the shooting began after Matich pushed the alarm button, and that if he had worn a mask it would not have happened.
A Newton County jury convicted Ford and sentenced him to death after an October 1986 trial in which he claimed he was too drunk to know what was happening, and that Turner was the one who entered the store and started firing.
In several appeals, Ford argued that the jury failed to find any aggravating circumstances that would have justified a capital sentence. He also contended that prosecutors suppressed evidence about Turner's drug use the night of the killings and claimed his trial lawyer was ineffective.
State and federal appeals courts, however, have repeatedly denied his claims and upheld the death sentence. And a petition to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied on Jan. 25, 2010.
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