Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Killer's execution could be delayed

Killer's execution could be delayed

From staff and wire reports
February 14, 2007

RALEIGH, N.C. - The man responsible for raping and murdering an 11-year-old Caswell County girl nearly 12 years ago is scheduled to die by lethal injection early next month. However, that execution is likely to be delayed.

The state Department of Correction scheduled a March 2 lethal injection for Archie Lee Billings on Tuesday.

State officials said Billings’ execution and the March 9 execution set for Allen R. Holman Sr. will probably be postponed by the ongoing debate about the role doctors should play in executions.

Billings, 33, was sentenced to death for the first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and first-degree murder of Amy Jackson in Caswell County. Jackson was killed on July 7, 1995.

A stab wound to Jackson’s neck that severed her right carotid artery killed her, a forensic pathologist testified during Billings’ trial in the spring of 1996 in Caswell County Superior Court.

Billings also was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to inflict serious injury for stabbing Amy Jackson’s 13-year-old brother, Bobby Jackson, 23 times. He was convicted of first-degree burglary for breaking into the home where the children slept.

Corrections officials were required by law to set the execution dates after both Billings and Holman, convicted for the 1997 murder of his wife in Wake County, exhausted or ended their court appeals, department spokesman Mike Stater said.

But Noelle Talley, a spokeswoman for State Attorney General Roy Cooper, said prosecutors anticipated lawyers for both inmates would seek and receive stays of execution.

Three other executions were halted last month by Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens as the state wrestled with the role a physician should play when the state puts a condemned man to death.

In January, the state medical board threatened to punish any physician who takes part in an execution. State law requires a doctor be present, and a federal judge last year refused to allow an execution to proceed unless a doctor was watching over the inmate.

In an effort to resolve the dilemma, correction officials proposed a new “execution protocol” that changed the role a doctor plays in the process.

Billings is scheduled to be put to death 2 a.m. March 2 at Central Prison in Raleigh, N.C.

Kevin Bradley, an attorney for Billings, said Tuesday night he wasn’t aware the corrections department has set an execution date for his client. But he had already filed a motion asking Billings’ execution be halted until the state resolves its capital punishment questions.

“I guess I’m going to have to get this in front of a judge immediately,” Bradley said. “I was under the impression that the Department of Correction wasn’t going to keep setting execution dates, and it seemed to make more sense to wait for developments before going before a judge.”

On Jan. 8, the U.S. Supreme Court denied Billings’ petition to review the decision of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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