The death warrant authorizing Gregory Wilson’s execution expired at midnight Sept. 16, 2010. According to representations made by the Department of Corrections to the Franklin Circuit Court, a key ingredient in the lethal injection mix will not be available until the first quarter of 2011. As a result, there is no current date for Wilson’s execution and the state lacks the means to execute until the first quarter of 2011.
There are also legal issues pending about the Wilson case:
1. The Kentucky Supreme Court is reviewing a decision by the Kenton Circuit Court denying Wilson’s request for DNA testing and a determination of whether he is exempt from execution due to mental retardation. If the Supreme Court grants Wilson’s request, an evidentiary hearing will be scheduled in Kenton Circuit Court. It is highly improbable that the governor would seek to execute Wilson before a hearing was concluded and it is highly probable that he would be enjoined if he did.
2. The Kentucky Supreme Court is also reviewing a case from Franklin Circuit Court involving the new execution procedures written by the Kentucky Department of Corrections pursuant to a November 2009 order of the Kentucky Supreme Court. Wilson intervened in the case and the trial judge enjoined the state from executing Wilson while the court was reviewing the legal adequacy of the new execution procedures. In the course of enjoining the Wilson execution, the trial judge expressed official interest in (i) the lack of procedures to test for mental retardation prior to execution and (ii) possible legal flaws in Wilson’s trial where he was given no choice but to represent himself most of the time. Judge Phillip Shepherd has established an expedited briefing schedule on these matters, which concludes on Oct. 25.
The Kentucky Supreme Court is currently reviewing legal briefs from the litigants concerning the Franklin Circuit Court case, after which it may rule that the case is moot since there is no current death warrant applicable to Wilson; or, it might affirm the judge’s ruling, the effect of which would be to require the Department of Corrections to supplement its execution procedures to provide for mental retardation testing; or, it might reverse the trial judge’s ruling in effect finding that the judge had no good reason to delay the Wilson execution. In the latter case, Wilson would be scheduled for execution if and when (1) the governor signs a new death warrant and (2) the state receives new supplies of the drugs needed for the lethal injection.
If the Supreme Court finds the case is moot or it agrees with Judge Shepherd, the case would nevertheless be returned to Franklin Circuit Court for such further hearings as the trial judge may require in order to render a final judgment on the legal adequacy of the new execution procedures.