Court denies killer's appeal Death row inmate shot police officer

Md. may set execution date

Another challenge pending, says Hunt's lawyer

January 09, 1996|By Lyle Denniston | Lyle Denniston,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Gary Cohn contributed to this article.

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court turned aside yesterday the third appeal in the past four years by Flint Gregory Hunt of Baltimore, the death row inmate who now appears to be the next in line for execution in Maryland.

The justices made no comment as they refused to allow Hunt to reopen a constitutional challenge to his conviction for the murder of Baltimore police officer Vincent Adolfo in November 1985.

The court's action clears the way for Maryland officials to schedule an execution date, although Hunt has another legal challenge pending before Baltimore Circuit Court. If his petition is rejected there, he will be allowed to appeal.

Hunt's lawyer, Thomas C. Morrow, said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court action but that there are still significant issues pending before the Circuit Court. Those issues range from the discovery of new witnesses who suggest conflicting views of evidence to a contention that Hunt has been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment because he has been on death row for a decade, he said.

"It's not over till the fat lady sings," Mr. Morrow said. "She hasn't begun humming yet."

Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. Doory, who prosecuted Hunt for murder, said he was pleased by yesterday's Supreme Court action.

The appeals process "could be finished in the next six months or less," Mr. Doory said, paving the way for Hunt to be put to death in the gas chamber.

Hunt has been sentenced to death twice for the murder. The first sentence was overturned by the Maryland Court of Appeals in VTC 1987. Since then, a Baltimore jury has imposed a new death sentence, and Hunt's lawyers have taken his case through another round of appeals in Maryland and federal courts.

In June, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Hunt's claim that his defense lawyer mishandled the trial and ruled that Hunt had abused his procedural rights in trying to revive old constitutional issues in federal court.

Hunt was found guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of Officer Adolfo during a struggle in an East Baltimore alley. The officer was shot twice while trying to arrest Hunt for allegedly stealing an auto.

Hunt fled after the shooting and was arrested in Tulsa, Okla. He originally went on trial for murder in 1986, leading to a death sentence.

Inmates under a death sentence in Maryland when the state's lethal-injection law went into effect in 1994 were allowed to chose the manner of their execution -- the gas chamber or lethal injection. Hunt was the only one of 13 inmates to choose death by gas.

"Mr. Hunt chose gas over lethal injection [because] he felt as a matter of honor that was what he was sentenced to and that's what he would accept if it came to his execution," Mr. Morrow said.

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