12/4/2007 6:52:37 AM
BY PATSY R. BRUMFIELD
JACKSON - The attorney for murderer Early Wesley Berry says that even though the U.S. Supreme Court did not decide last week whether they will hear Berry's death penalty appeal, it doesn't mean they won't.
Jim Craig of Jackson, Berry's attorney, said Monday it's hard to predict exactly what the justices are thinking but he thinks they probably decided to hold his case over for a decision on the Baze case.
Baze is a Kentucky case that challenges legal injection procedures as cruel and unusual punishment. Berry was barely an hour away from his own execution by lethal injection when the Supreme Court stopped it. Berry has raised the same argument as the Kentucky case.
Friday, the nation's highest court took up Berry's case but did not make a decision.
Craig said he thinks the court's non-decision in the Berry case means they could issue a ruling after they decide Baze. It's likely to be late in the term, near the end of June, he noted.
Berry was sentenced to die for beating and stomping Mary Bounds to death in 1987.
Berry was convicted of kidnapping and killing Bounds on Nov. 29, 1987, outside the First Baptist Church in Houston. Eleven months later, Berry was sentenced to death by a Chickasaw County jury. His confession was used against him during the trial.
The Supreme Court did not delay Berry's execution indefinitely, saying the stay would remain in effect until the justices take action on Berry's petition for review of his case.
The Supreme Court has allowed only one execution to go forward since agreeing to hear the Baze case.
If the court decides not to review the appeal, the attorney general's office would ask the Mississippi Supreme Court to seek a new execution date. It has not done so yet, a spokesman said Monday.