Federal court halts execution in Pennsylvania

    The execution was scheduled for this evening.A federal appeals court has granted a stay of execution for Pennsylvania inmate Hubert Michael, convicted in the shooting death of a teenage girl in York County.

     

    Michael had been scheduled to be executed Thursday night.

    His lawyers say they’re pleased with the stay.

    Michael’s mental condition hasn’t been considered in court, according to Mark Bookman who leads the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that consults with defense lawyers whose clients are on death row.

    “It’s a question of whether the courts are going to look at the merits of this man’s serious mental illness or not look at the merits,” Bookman said.

    Bookman says other factors caused Michael to plead guilty and not challenge his sentence.

    “The really awful relationship he had with his original lawyer, which he complained about regularly on the record — all of those combined to make him essentially give up his appeals,” Bookman said. “He’s never had any kind of a reasonable review of the issues in his case.”

    Michael was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1993 shooting death of teenager Trista Eng of York County.

    The federal appeals court that granted the stay remanded Michael’s case back to district court.

    The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office has filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which could put the execution back on track.

    The execution had been set for Rockview state prison near State College.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.