Family of Condemned Man Calls For MercyBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 19 Mar 2012 05:32pm |
The first of two scheduled executionsthis week is set for six o'clock tonight at the Mississippi penitentiary in Parchman. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that anti-death penalty advocates and the family of the condemned man are calling for his sentence to be commuted to life without parole.
Wearing black shirts with bold white letters reading SAVE MATT, the advocates and family members of Larry Matthew Puckett met at the capitol yesterday to call on the governor to commute his sentence from death to life without parole.
Puckett was convicted of the 1995 rape and murder of Rhonda Hatten Griffis.
Puckett's mother Mary says her son never received good representation and was railroaded to a conviction.
"We believe that Matt didn't do it. We know Matt didn't do it. And we just want to save his life long enough so we can prove that, so he can come home some day. I think he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time," Puckett said.
Attorneys for Puckett are asking the U-S Supreme court to block the execution saying prosecutors kept blacks off the jury and Puckett's former lawyers never properly challenged his conviction on those grounds.
Puckett is white. The jury was all white.
Puckett is the first of two executions set for this week...The state is also planning to execute of 61-year old William Mitchell on Thursday.
Attorney and anti death penalty advocate Jim Craig says the trial process is fundamentally flawed, making it impossible to fairly apply the death penalty.
"Even though these cases have been going on for a long time, they really have not had their day in court. Neither of these two men have had their day in court. And it is time for people to stand up and say so and demand real justice according to law," Craig said.
Craig says Mitchell is mental disabled and his execution should be blocked on those grounds.
A spokesman for Governor Phil Bryant says the governor is reviewing both of the cases before deciding whether or not to commute the men's sentences.
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