Supreme Court delays Virginia killer's execution
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday halted Virginia's planned execution of a man who murdered a co-worker, just hours before he was to be put to death.
Virginia had been preparing to execute Christopher Scott Emmett, 36, even as several other states had stopped executions after the high court agreed to review claims that the method is unconstitutionally cruel.
Emmett had been slated to die by injection at 9 p.m. EDT at Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt for the 2001 slaying of John Fenton Langley, whom he beat to death with the base of a brass lamp in a Danville motel room.
The stay granted by the court Wednesday will last until a Richmond-based federal appeals court takes another look at the case. The justices did not comment further on their order.
The Supreme Court decided last month to review whether the lethal injection method most states use is cruel and unusual, based on a challenge from two inmates on death row in Kentucky. Virginia uses the same 3-drug lethal injection cocktail as Kentucky.
Executions in at least 10 states have been halted as a result of the litigation over lethal injections. On Monday, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a stay for a killer just 90 minutes before he was to be put to death.
Death penalty opponents argue that the drugs used in executions don't always work as quickly as intended and inmates are subjected to excruciating pain.
The state attorney general's office has maintained that Virginia's lethal injection procedures have been reviewed by judges multiple times and always found to be humane and constitutional.
"The Supreme Court has spoken and we respect the decision," attorney general spokesman J. Tucker Martin said in response to the high court's decision.
Gene Langley Sr. said lethal injection is a far more humane way to die than the manner in which his brother was killed.
"If everybody wants to be concerned about his well-being, think about the way my brother died," said Langley Sr., 47, of Rocky Mount, N.C. "He should die the same way that my brother died."
Langley and Emmett were friends and had been working together in Danville as part of an out-of-town roofing crew. On the night of the murder, Emmett joined Langley and their co-workers for dinner and a game of cards at their motel.
Later, as Langley slept, Emmett picked up the lamp and hit the 43-year-old father of two several times in the head. He then took a wallet out of Langley's pocket and used the money to buy crack.