Arthur loses another round
By Tom Smith
Senior Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, May 1, 2010 at 3:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 30, 2010 at 10:12 p.m.
Convicted killer Tommy Arthur's efforts to stay out of the execution chamber took another blow Friday when the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals agreed with a lower court that a confession by another man was not credible.
The court of criminal appeals issued the ruling late Friday afternoon.
Arthur, 67, was sentenced to die for the 1982 shooting death of Troy Wicker at his home in Muscle Shoals. Wicker's wife, Judy Wicker, testified she hired Arthur to kill her husband. Arthur was a state work release inmate at the time.
Arthur has come close to being executed three times. The last came July 31, 2008, when it was stopped by the Alabama Supreme Court because another inmate, Bobby Ray Gilbert, confessed.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Teresa Pulliam ruled in April 2009 that Gilbert was not telling the truth.
In January, Arthur's attorney, Suhana Han, of New York, asked the court of criminal appeals to overturn the ruling by the Jefferson County judge. Han contended more investigation was needed into Gilbert's claims that he shot Wicker.
Gilbert and Arthur were being held at the same time at the Atmore prison. Gilbert is in the St. Clair Correctional Facility where he is serving a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for a murder conviction. He claims he had an affair with Judy Wicker and killer her husband after she asked him to.
Judy Wicker, who served 10 years on a life sentence for her role in her husband's death, said she does not know Gilbert and says it was Arthur, not Gilbert, who killed her husband.
Pulliam, in her decision, stated that testimony from other inmates showed Arthur worked with Gilbert to develop the false claim while both were at Holman Prison.
Pulliam also had ordered DNA testing be done of clothing from the crime scene for the first time in the case.
In her decision, she also wrote that DNA testing of crime scene evidence showed that none of the semen found on Judy Wicker's clothing matched Gilbert's. But the semen "is consistent with her having sex with her husband at some time in the close proximity of the murder and her false allegation of rape, and not with Gilbert."
In his confession, Gilbert said he had sex with Wicker after killing her husband.
Arthur claims he did not kill Troy Wicker. He has been convicted three times in Wicker's death. Twice his conviction has been overturned on technicalities. His last conviction was in 1991 after the trial was moved to Jefferson County.
He is one of the longest-serving inmates on death row in Alabama. He was sent to death row in 1983.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.