Richards reviews plea to stay execution Texas murderer to die tomorrow

April 28, 1993|By New York Times News Service

HOUSTON -- Gov. Ann W. Richards is reviewing a request for an emergency 30-day stay of execution for Gary Graham, a Texas inmate facing death by lethal injection tomorrow for the 1981 slaying of an Arizona man in a supermarket parking lot here.

"She has made no decision," said Leticia Vasquez, a spokeswoman for the governor, adding that it was doubtful that she would decide before yesterday evening, pending the outcome of a flurry of legal activity on Graham's behalf. Defense lawyers are raising what they say are serious factual questions.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 10-7, with one abstention, on Monday against delaying the execution date and forwarded its recommendation Ms. Richards.

Also Monday, State District Judge Donald Shipley denied an application for habeas corpus relief, sending the case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Mandy Welch, a lawyer with the Texas Resource Center, which is helping Graham in his defense, said the appellate court could continue to deny the application, stay the execution pending further review, remand it to district court for a habeas corpus hearing or grant a new trial.

If the appellate court accepts the recommendations of the lower court and allows the execution, Ms. Welch said, the defense will seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Graham was convicted of killing Bobby Lambert of Arizona on May 13, 1981. Ms. Welch contends that the state presented the testimony of one eyewitness but did not present other eyewitnesses who could have rebutted the testimony. Moreover, she says, witnesses who could have provided an alibi for Graham were never called to testify.

Ms. Welch also says compelling new evidence has surfaced. Two eyewitnesses, Malcolm and Lorna Stephens, have come forward because of publicity about the case. Ms. Welch said that the Stephenses never told the police what they saw the night Mr. Lambert was killed and that they were never questioned.

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