A man once dubbed the “Houdini” of Alabama’s death row as he managed to escape seven past execution dates through creative legal maneuvers was set to be executed early Friday for a 1982 murder-for-hire shooting.
According to authorities, Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. CDT Friday at a south-west Alabama prison after lethal injection.
Arthur was charged with killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot while he was asleep in his bed in the north Alabama city of Muscle Shoals.
Wicker’s wife Judy first told police she was raped by a ‘black man’ who shot her husband. Later, testifications proved the wife orchestrated the murder with ‘black man’s’ help, who was revealed to be Arther in makeup and an Afr-wig style, who got $10,000 for the process. Arthur was in work-release program inmate at that point for the 1977 manslaughter of his sister-in-law.
The state scheduled seven execution dates for Arthur between 2001 and 2016. All were faced with delay as pro bono advocates fought his sentence.
“We were fixing to go into the room and they were going to put the needle in my arm,” Arther said.
Director of the Victims of Crime and Leniency Janette Grantham said, “He’s a Houdini. He always finds a way to escape.”
Unusual and inhumane punishment
On Wednesday, Arthur’s defendant attorneys issued court papers with reference to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, referring to the lethal injection procedure as unusual and inhumane punishment.
The lawyers have said that the midazolam, the opening sedative in Alabama’s execution protocol, wouldn’t properly stupefy him correctly before other drugs to stop his heart and lungs were injected into him.
The state attorney general said Arthur issued pleas constantly to escape his sentence over the past decades.
“The case of Thomas Arthur is an egregious example of how a convicted murderer can manipulate the legal system to avoid justice,” Attorney General Steve Marshall said recently.