Georgia's third execution date in less than a month is set for next Wednesday. But lawyers for death row inmate Curt Osborne believe they have enough evidence to spare their client's life.
Already this month, the state's blood lust has been tempered by the Pardons and Parole Board. In the case of the second inmate scheduled for execution in May, the board commuted Samuel David Crowe's sentence to life in prison without parole three hours before he was to be put to death by lethal injection.
Osborne's lawyers are hoping for a similar decision from the board. (William Earl Lynd wasn't so lucky; he was executed on May 6.)
Unlike death row inmate Troy Davis, who is expected to receive an execution date later this year, neither Crowe's nor Osborne's attorneys have raised claims of their clients' innocence. In Crowe's case, attorneys asked for mercy due to the fact that Crowe had radically turned his life around in prison. In Osborne's case, attorneys are claiming that his trial lawyer, the late Johnny Mostiler, was racially prejudiced against Osborne, who is African-American.
According to the AJC:
One of [Mostiler's other clients], Gerald Steven Huey, said Mostiler once said of Osborne, "That little [racial epithet] deserves the death penalty."
On another occasion, Huey said, Mostiler came to him with an offer from the district attorney to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence. But Huey declined.
"Mr. Mostiler got furious and told me how lucky I was," Huey said. "He said that he had an offer for Curtis Osborne but he would never tell Mr. Osborne about it because he deserved to die."
Huey, dumbfounded, said he asked Mostiler if he was on a crusade, according to his affidavit, signed in April 2001. "He said that he believed that some people deserved to walk and some didn't, and if that was a crusade then he was on one," Huey said.
Death penalty expert Stephen Bright, president of the Southern Center for Human Rights, says Georgia is fortunate to have a pardons and parole board that carefully weighs the merits of death sentences and has the power to commute them from time to time.
"That's much different than in some states," Bright says, "where the governor all by his- or herself makes the decision, and it's a political lightning rod."
(Photo courtesy of Georgia Department of Corrections)
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