Defense attorneys say appeal pending in death penalty case

Published 11:21 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

JACKSON (AP) — Death row inmate Joseph Daniel Burns has a federal appeal pending so the state’s request for the setting of an execution date is premature, according documents filed with the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Attorney General Jim Hood has asked Mississippi court to set execution dates for Burns and two other inmates.

In Burns’ case, Hood’s office said attorneys for the inmate missed a deadline for filing a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review his case.

However, the Mississippi Office of Capital Post-Conviction Counsel said, in documents filed this week with the Mississippi court, that Burns’ attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overlook the late filing and hear Burns’ appeal.

U.S. Supreme Court records show the state has until May 20 to response to Burns’ motion.

Louwlynn V. Williams, with the Post-Conviction Counsel’s Office, said Hood’s motion for an execution date should be dismissed as premature.

Hood has asked the Mississippi court to set Burns’ execution for May 12.

Burns, 42, was convicted in the 1994 killing of Tupelo motel manager Floyd McBride at the Town House Motel.

Prosecutors say Burns stabbed McBride while an accomplice opened the motel safe, then the two men fled with money from the safe.

The attorney general’s office has also asked for a May 19 execution date for Paul E. Woodward and May 20 for Gerald James Holland.

The Mississippi court has not ruled on the requests.

Holland, of Adams County, was sentenced to death for raping, beating, stabbing and suffocating 15-year-old Krystal King. Holland, at 72, is the oldest inmate on death row.

Woodward, 62, of Monticello, was sentenced to death for the rape and shooting death of Rhonda Crane, 24, of Escatawpa.

The last execution in the state was July 23, 2008.