LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - An execution date has been requested for
a Kentucky Death Row inmate convicted of killing a sheriff and
deputy in 1992.
Attorney General Greg Stumbo asked Gov. Ernie Fletcher to
schedule an execution for Ralph Stevens Baze on Sept. 18. Baze was
condemned to death for the shooting deaths of Powell County Sheriff
Steve Bennett and Deputy Arthur Briscoe.
The U.S. Supreme Court rejected Baze's final appeal in July,
clearing the way for Stumbo to make the request.
David Fleenor, general counsel to Fletcher, said the Department
of Public Advocacy, which represents Baze, will be asked to comment
on the proposed execution. After that, Fletcher will make his
decision about whether to sign the death warrant, Fleenor said.
"Typically, we would move fairly quickly," Fleenor said.
Baze's attorney, David Barron, declined comment Tuesday.
Baze was being sought on five warrants from Ohio when he shot
Bennett and Briscoe as they searched for him in eastern Kentucky.
Stumbo recounted some details of the killings, including that
Bennett was shot three times in the back and Bennett was shot twice
in the back before Baze shot him in the head at close range.
The request made Tuesday is the second time Stumbo has sought an
execution date for Baze. Baze, who challenged lethal injection as
cruel and unusual punishment in a 2004 lawsuit, has received
several stays of execution because of the court challenges.
Baze is involved in two separate lawsuits challenging Kentucky's
methods of execution. He is one of three inmates suing the state,
claiming that lethal injection violates federal laws because a
doctor doesn't obtain or administer the drugs. He is also suing in
federal court along with several other inmates, claiming that
lethal injection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
Baze has also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to consider his
challenge to Kentucky's lethal injection methods. Stumbo's response
to the request is due Monday. The high court has not ruled on that
Kentucky has 40 death-row inmates, including 11 who have been
there for more than two decades. The state has executed two men
since reinstating the death penalty in 1976 and only one by
injection: Eddie Lee Harper, in 1999. Injection is the only method
of execution used on inmates who have been condemned since 1998;
those sentenced to death earlier can choose electrocution.
Kentucky has not declared a moratorium on executions but has not
scheduled any since the 2004 lawsuit.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)