The Supreme Court refused to block the lethal injection of Murray Hooper, a 76-year-old inmate who was scheduled to be executed in Arizona on Wednesday. Hooper had asked the justices to intervene in light of what he characterized as new evidence showing that he was wrongfully convicted, but Arizona prosecutors dismissed his contention as “entirely trumped-up.”
Hooper was sentenced to death for his role in the murder-for-hire of Pat Redmond and Helen Phelps during a home invasion on New Year’s Eve in 1980. He argued that prosecutors had only revealed to him in the past few weeks – more than 40 years after the crime – that the lone eyewitness had failed to identify him in a photo line-up. The prosecutors’ failure to divulge this evidence sooner, he said, violates his rights under the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brady v. Maryland, holding that prosecutors must disclose any evidence they have that is favorable to the defendant.
The state dismissed Hooper’s contention as “totally baseless.” A letter from prosecutors to the Arizona Board of Clemency indicating that Marilyn Redmond, Pat’s wife and the only eyewitness, had been unable to identify Hooper in a line-up was, the state explained, an “error”; Marilyn Redmond “had never been shown a printed line-up.” The Arizona state court that considered Hooper’s efforts to invalidate his conviction based on this allegation, the state pointed out, concluded that the allegation “has no evidentiary support and no basis in fact.”
This post is also published on SCOTUSblog.