U.S. judge denies Hunt's appeal of death sentence

June 28, 1994|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Sun Staff Writer

Flint Gregory Hunt, sentenced to die for the 1985 murder of a Baltimore police officer, moved a step closer to the gas chamber yesterday when a federal judge denied his appeal of his death sentence.

Although subject to appeals in federal Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, yesterday's ruling could lead to Hunt's execution as early as 1995, said Gary E. Bair, Maryland's assistant attorney general in charge of criminal appeals. Mr. Bair said Hunt is further along in the process than any of the 13 other inmates on Maryland's death row.

Mr. Bair said Hunt could also seek a second round of post-conviction hearings in state court. Hunt's lawyer, Thomas C. Morrow, could not be reached for comment.

In a 15-page opinion issued yesterday, U.S. District Judge Fredric N. Smalkin rejected arguments that Hunt was inadequately represented at trial and that execution by lethal gas is cruel and unusual punishment and thus unconstitutional.

Inmates sentenced to death in Maryland before the state's lethal-injection law went into effect this year were allowed to choose the manner of their execution. Of the 13 inmates in that group, Hunt was the only one to choose death by gas, Mr. Bair said.

Hunt, who turned 35 yesterday, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to die for fatally shooting Officer Vincent J. Adolfo during a struggle in an alley in November 1985. His sentence was affirmed by the state's appellate courts. Last year a Baltimore Circuit Court judge denied Hunt's request for a new trial or sentencing hearing.

In May, murderer John Frederick Thanos became the first inmate to be executed in Maryland in 33 years.

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