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Two Kentucky death row inmates trying to speed up their executions

By BRETT BARROUQUERE
Associated Press Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - A pair of Kentucky death row inmates are
seeking to end their appeals and potentially hasten their own
executions, possibly under a new set of rules for lethal injection
that the state is pushing for.
The inmates, Shawn William Windsor and James Hunt, are both
pursuing lawsuits against their public defenders in Franklin
Circuit Court in an effort to fire the attorneys and waive their
remaining appeals. The Kentucky Supreme Court is reviewing the
criminal cases of both men, with rulings in their cases possible
later this month.
Should both men be successful and be executed, they would become
the third and fourth Kentucky inmates to die at their own request.
The suits come as Kentucky is pursuing readoption of it's lethal
injection protocol. A legislative subcommittee is scheduled to
consider the method on Monday as it makes it's way to Gov. Steve
Beshear for eventual rejection or approval. There's no sign in the
men's appeals, though, that their effort is linked to the new
protocols.
Kentucky is attempting to re-enact the protocol used for the
three-drug cocktail used to execute inmates after the Kentucky
Supreme Court halted executions last year. The high court said the
state improperly adopted it's protocol.
The proposed protocol includes several provisions dealing with
what to do if a volunteer changes his mind once the execution
starts. The proposed protocol allows an inmate to contact his
attorney and the warden to notify the Department of Corrections
commissioner about the change, with the commissioner telling the
governor and courts.
About 12 percent of the roughly 1,600 inmates executed in the
United States since 1976 abandoned their appeals and asked for
their sentences to be carried out, said Richard Dieter, executive
director of the Death Penalty Information Center and an adjunct law
professor at Catholic University in Washington. Each time, the
inmate either fired the defense lawyer or told them to stop filing
appeals.
"It amounts to the same thing," Dieter said.
Because several inmates are at the end of their appeals,
Windsor, 46, and Hunt, 62, may not be the first executed if the
protocol is readopted and approved and they are successful in their
lawsuits. But, both inmates said they are intent on waiving their
appeals, which would open the door to an execution.
Windsor, who pleaded guilty and asked for a death sentence in
the killings of his wife and son in Louisville, confirmed to The
Associated Press that he wants to be executed, despite efforts by
his attorney to continue pursuing appeals.
"I'm trying to do the right thing," Windsor said in a phone
interview.
Hunt of Prestonburg, convicted of killing his wife in eastern
Kentucky, sent his public defenders a letter firing them.
"Thank you for your assistance to date, but your services are
no longer needed or wanted," Hunt wrote, explaining that he wanted
no more appeals on his behalf.
Attorneys in both cases have raised the issue of whether the men
are competent to waive appeals, but have also focused on the unique
aspects in each case.
Hunt's attorney, Shelly R. Fears, said Hunt's case is different
from the others on death row because he was condemned for killing
his wife after months of marital turmoil, making him the only
person currently sentenced to death in Kentucky for a single-death
domestic homicide.
Fears said the Kentucky Supreme Court failed to consider those
circumstances in initially upholding the conviction. The high court
has been asked to reconsider the ruling and weigh those
circumstances.
"No one else has been sent to death row for a comparable
situation," Fears said.
One of Windsor's attorneys, Louisville public defender Dan
Goyette, said Windsor has changed his mind multiple times about
wanting to be executed.
"We've been down this street several times with him," Goyette
said.
Shelley Catharine Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky
Attorney General's office, declined comment on Hunt's and Windsor's
lawsuits, saying the office is not a party to the litigation.
Kentucky has executed three people since 1976, two of whom
waived all or part of their appeals to speed up their executions.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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