Supreme Court puts a hold on execution date for man convicted of killing Natchez college student

Published 5:52 am Friday, December 1, 2023

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by Mina Corpuz, Mississippi Today
November 30, 2023

Weeks after the state asked to set an execution date for Willie Jerome Manning, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled Thursday that it will not schedule one until it considers his petition for post-conviction relief.

In an order authored by Justice Robert Chamberlin, all nine justices agreed that pending motions to set an execution will be put on hold until the state replies to Manning’s post-conviction petition and his attorneys file a response.

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Manning, 55, was convicted in 1994 of the shooting deaths of Mississippi State University students Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler of Natchez. He has spent more than half of his life in prison.

He has maintained his innocence and is challenging his conviction by pointing out the unreliability of the state’s evidence and testimony.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court granted a time extension to the state to respond to Manning’s petition by Dec. 29. A week and a half later, the attorney general’s office filed its motions to proceed with his execution.

In court documents, the state said deadlines in other death penalty cases through the end of the year have prevented it from responding to Manning’s petition.

In the Thursday order, Chamberlin wrote “based on the State’s representation that is prepared for the Court to set Manning’s execution date,” it would not grant more extensions unless there are exigent circumstances.

Attorney General Lynn Fitch is also seeking an execution date for Robert Simon Jr., who last week filed a successive petition for post-conviction relief that the Supreme Court has not ruled on yet.

This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.