Gov. Steve Beshear sets a Sept. 16 execution date for Gregory Wilson; Kentucky’s fourth execution in 34 years
Gov. Steve Beshear signed a death warrant today for Gregory Wilson, setting an execution date of Sept. 16. Wilson’s execution would be Kentucky’s fourth since the death penalty was re-established in 1976.
Wilson was one of three men that Attorney General Jack Conway asked Beshear to set an execution date for on Nov. 23, 2009, the same day
- the American Bar Association (ABA) announced it was reviewing Kentucky’s death penalty system
- 14 prominent Kentucky attorneys, asked Gov. Beshear to halt executions pending the outcome of the ABA’s review, which is still not finished
And the following day, 39 Kentucky writers–including Wendell Berry–wrote Gov. Beshear asking for a moratorium on the death penalty, as did the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
Later that week, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that the commonwealth’s lethal injection protocol was not legal; the 10-month delay between Conway asking Beshear to sign the death warrants and Beshear doing so was largely the result of the commonwealth attempting to resolve those issues.
Of the three cases Conway forwarded to the governor, Wilson was selected to die before Ralph Baze Jr. and Robert Foley because he “has the oldest offense and conviction date” of the three men, according to a letter from J. Micheal Brown, secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, to Beshear. Wilson kidnapped, raped, and murdered Deborah Pooley in May 1987 and was sentenced to death on Oct. 31, 1988.
According to a 2006 poll conducted by the University of Kentucky Survey Center, 67 percent of Kentuckians questioned preferred a long prison sentence to execution for those convicted of aggravated murder.
Also in a time of a budget crisis and massive government layoffs in Kentucky, “the state Department of Public Advocacy estimates that Kentucky spends as much as $8 million a year prosecuting, defending and incarcerating death-row inmates, even as state-ordered budget cuts impair other aspects of the judicial branch of government.” Furthermore, former Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph Lambert said, “Death-penalty cases often become ‘legal monsters,’ and that while a decision about whether to abolish capital punishment is a ‘political question … it’s impossible to streamline death-penalty litigation to justify the cost, because doing so would dramatically increase the risk of wrongful executions per the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Members of the media interested in speaking with a KCADP spokesperson can contact chairperson Rev. Pat Delahanty, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502.494.3298.