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News Scan

Convicted Killer in $7 Holdup Set to Die:  Michael Graczyk of the AP reports that convicted killer Gayland Bradford will be put to death later today after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his stay of execution last week. Bradford was already out on parole for a robbery conviction when he robbed a Dallas grocery store for $7 and gunned down 29-year-old security guard Brian Williams four days after Christmas in 1988.  Bradford will be the fourth Texas prisoner to be executed this year.

Missouri Supreme Court Rejects Death Row Inmates' Appeals:  Mark Morris of The Kansas City Star reports the Missouri Supreme Court yesterday rejected the appeals of death row inmates Michael Taylor and Roderick Nunley, both convicted of the 1989 kidnapping, rape, and fatal stabbing of 15 year-old Ann Harrison.  In 1991 both men pleaded guilty and opted to have a judge, rather than a jury, determine their sentence because they thought a judge would be more likely to sentence them to life in prison. Although the Supreme Court later ruled that a capital murder defendant has the right to have a jury find the aggravating factor required for a death sentence, both men validly waived a jury for this stage of the proceedings.  "To approve such an argument would solicit game-play in criminal cases. It essentially would encourage a defendant to waive his jury rights, take his chances with a judge and then, if he does not receive the leniency he expected from the judge, later feign confusion about having waived his right to jury sentencing so he could take his chances again before a jury," wrote Judge Mary R. Russell.

Execution Date Set for Jasper, Texas Dragging Death:  A September 21 execution date was set yesterday for Lawrence Russell Brewer,who was convicted and sentenced to death for his involvement in the infamous dragging death murder near Jasper, Texas.  In 1998, Brewer and two other men offered James Byrd a ride in one of their trucks, chained Byrd's ankles to the bumper, and dragged his body for three miles.  Prosecutors claimed Brewer was the leader of a supremacist prison gang and that the murder was racially motivated.  Michael Graczyk of the AP has this story.

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