Lawyer files to stay Thanos execution BALTIMORE COUNTY

September 29, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

A public defender filed an appeal yesterday to stay the execution of convicted killer John Frederick Thanos, even though the condemned man fired the attorney Monday.

Thomas J. Saunders, chief of the capital defense division of the Office of the Public Defender, mailed the appeal to Garrett County Circuit Judge Fred A. Thayer, who ordered on Monday that Thanos die in the gas chamber between Nov. 1 and Nov. 8.

If the execution is carried out, it will be Maryland's first since 1961.

Thanos, 43, killed two Baltimore County teen-agers during a weeklong crime spree in 1990. The trial and sentencing were moved to Garrett County.

Ordinarily, when an appeal is filed in a death penalty case, the warrant for execution is automatically stayed pending the outcome of the appeal.

But the Thanos case is different, because Thanos has unequivocally stated in open court that he doesn't want any more appeals. He also fired Mr. Saunders as his attorney, effectively waiving his right to counsel.

Mr. Saunders said he would challenge that waiver on the ground that Judge Thayer was mistaken in ruling that Thanos was competent to waive his rights.

Sue Schenning, a deputy state's attorney for Baltimore County, said yesterday her office would oppose any stay of the execution. She also said she would ask for a speedy hearing if the Court of Appeals decides to take on Mr. Saunders' appeal.

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