An Alabama assistant attorney general said he would ask the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for Thomas Arthur in a 1982 murder-for-hire, after a Jefferson County judge ruled that another inmate's confession to the crime lacked any credibility.
Lawyers representing Arthur in his appeals asked Circuit Judge Teresa Pulliam today to order further DNA testing on a wig the killer wore when Troy Wicker Jr. was killed while asleep at his Muscle Shoals home. Earlier testing by a state forensic expert found no DNA on the wig.Pulliam rejected that request and referred the case back to the Supreme Court.
In April, Pulliam had ordered DNA tests on the wig as well as on clothing that Wicker's wife, Judy, wore the day her husband was killed. Judy Wicker was convicted of murder in her husband's death and served 10 years in prison before her release.
Arthur, 67, was days away from a scheduled execution last year in Wicker's murder when another inmate, Bobby Ray Gilbert, filed a sworn statement confessing to the crime. That led Arthur's lawyers to seek the DNA testing in an attempt to determine if the wrong man was convicted.
Judy Wicker, who has testified that she hired Arthur to kill her husband, denied knowing Gilbert when she testified during the April hearing.
After the April hearing, Pulliam said she was skeptical of Gilbert's story, but ordered the limited DNA testing to assess Gilbert's credibility. In his statement, Gilbert said that after killing Wicker at age 15, Gilbert and Judy Wicker had unprotected sex in the hallway during the brief time before police arrived.
DNA testing on the clothes Mrs. Wicker was wearing showed the Wickers had sex at some point before her husband was killed.
"Science has in fact made a liar out of Mr. Gilbert," Pulliam said today when announcing her decision denying Arthur's request for a retrial based on new evidence. "Science in this case has absolutely confirmed to me that what he had to say about being in the house was untrue."