Arizona inmate's request for mercy denied
By: Associated Press
PHOENIX - The U.S. Supreme Court and Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday both turned down a last-minute mercy request from a death-row inmate who's set to be executed Thursday.
Lawyers for Robert Charles Towery asked the state's high court to reduce his sentence to 25 years to life in prison. They argued that Towery's partner in crime spent less than a decade in prison.
The court turned him down without comment less than two hours after the filing Wednesday afternoon.
On Wednesday evening, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a two-sentence order denying Towery's application for an execution stay.
Towery, 47, has been on death row for nearly 20 years for killing Mark Jones of Scottsdale while robbing his home.
Randy Allen Barker, the other man convicted in the killing, was given a plea deal for testifying against Towery and was released from prison in 2001.
In a filing with the Arizona Supreme Court less than 24 hours before the execution, Towery's attorneys argued that although Towery is the one who strangled Jones, Barker was holding the gun, watched the prolonged killing and "exhibited extreme indifference to human life."
The attorneys asked the court to delay Towery's execution to fully consider the request to reduce his sentence to 25 years to life in prison. The court turned them down less than two hours after receiving the filing.
In the filing, attorneys argue that given Barker's lenient sentence, putting Towery to death would be grossly disproportionate.
"Mr. Barker was present while Mr. Towery choked Mr. Jones, walking in and out of the bedroom," according to the filing. "He could have stopped Mr. Towery ... Mr. Towery was unarmed, and had neither physically assaulted nor threatened Mr. Barker."
Attorneys also said in the filing that after the killing, both men disposed of Jones' car, split the cash they had stolen, and that Barker gave most of the stolen items to family and friends.
In other filings, Towery's attorneys argued that the trial court failed to consider so-called mitigating factors that merited a sentence of life in prison over the death penalty, including an extremely difficult childhood that included abuse at the hands of his mother and longtime drug abuse.
Towery himself asked the state's clemency board last week to show him mercy and give him a sentence of life in prison. He also apologized to Jones' family for killing him.
"I have the deepest regrets for what I did and I'm truly sorry for their loss, for what I did to them," he said. "It's a terrible thing that I did and it should never have happened ... I can only pray that they will find peace and that someday they'll be able to forgive me."
He said that he and Barker decided to rob Jones because Towery knew he had money and that they discussed killing him beforehand.
At Towery's trial, the state's case rested on Barker's testimony.
Barker testified that he and Towery had discussed robbing Jones for several weeks before they went to his home on Sept. 4, 1991, with a made-up story that their car had broken down and they needed to use his phone. Jones, who had met Towery before, agreed.
Barker said that Towery then pulled a gun on Jones and Barker handcuffed him. The two loaded Jones' Lincoln Continental with electronics, jewelry, credit cards and cash from the home, before they took him to his bedroom at gunpoint.
Towery had Jones lay face-down with his hands tied behind his back and then tried to inject his arm with battery acid, Barker said. When that had no apparent effect, Towery then made a noose out of plastic ties and tried to strangle Jones, Barker testified.
Barker said Jones didn't put up a struggle but made choking and gagging noises. Because Towery didn't believe Jones was dead, he made another noose and choked him again, Barker said.
Jones' body was found the next day.
Barker and Towery were arrested after a security guard identified them from a photo lineup. He reported seeing the two ditch the Lincoln at an apartment complex.
Towery said at trial that he wasn't in Jones' home at all when the killing occurred and that Barker must have done it.
The last inmate to be executed in Arizona was Robert Henry Moormann on Feb. 29 for the brutal killing and dismemberment of his adoptive mother.
The Arizona Supreme Court will consider whether to approve death warrants for two more inmates on March 20.
Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/region_phoenix_metro/central_phoenix/arizona-death-row-inmate-seeks-mercy#ixzz1oW3rhxi0