Kentucky Supreme Court Stops Baze Execution

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Supreme Court halted the execution of Ralph S. Baze on Wednesday, two weeks before he was
set to die in the state's first lethal injection in eight years.

Justices said in the ruling that they wanted to consider whether Baze's initial trial was improperly moved. The court in Frankfort set a hearing for Nov. 15 on the issue.

"It just vindicated what we've said all along about the warrant being signed prematurely," said public defender David Barron, one of Baze's attorneys.

Baze was condemned to death for the 1992 shooting of Powell County Sheriff Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe. He was scheduled to be executed Sept. 25.

Bennett and Briscoe were serving warrants on Baze when he ambushed them. Baze has said the shootings were the result of a family dispute that got out of hand and resulted in the sheriff being called.

The stay came in one of six challenges Baze has pending to his death sentence.

Attorney General Stumbo's statement related to the Kentucky Supreme Court's stay of execution:

"My office will continue to work to see that the verdict of the jury in the Baze case is carried out. We are confident that any remaining issues will be resolved in the Commonwealth's favor."

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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