Three motions filed to appeal King execution

Published: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 30, 2002 at 10:26 p.m.
ST. PETERSBURG - Three motions have been filed by attorneys for Amos King seeking to delay or throw out the death sentence he received for killing an elderly Central Florida woman.
King, 48, has been on Death Row for 25 years and is scheduled to die 6 p.m. Monday at the Florida State Prison near Starke.
One motion filed late Friday requests DNA tests that could prove King's innocence, defense attorney Peter Cannon said Saturday. That motion asks for testing of hair samples and fingernail scrapings from the victim which could pin the murder on someone other than King.
The other motions ask for a stay of execution and to vacate King's death sentence, Cannon said. The motions were filed late Friday in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court. As part of the stay of execution motion, lawyers want a judge to release autopsy records used in the shaken baby case of John Peel Jr.
Peel, originally charged with first-degree murder of his infant son, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1998 after pleading guilty to manslaughter. A judge freed the St. Petersburg man from prison last week after questions arose about the medical examiner's report.
The autopsy in Peel's case was done by former Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood, who provided the autopsy on the Tarpon Springs woman who King was convicted of murdering.
Lawyers said the documents in Peel's case would show a pattern of flawed conclusions by Wood that led to King's conviction. Wood could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Peel case is the latest controversy for Wood since her reversal on the cause of death of a Church of Scientology member led prosecutors to drop charges against the church. Wood was forced to retire in 2000.
A hearing on the motions was set for 10 a.m. today before Circuit Judge Susan Schaeffer in St. Petersburg.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, granted Florida's request to erase the stay granted a day before to King by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
King's reprieve involved his claim that a lawyer must be appointed to represent him in a clemency petition to the state.
Separately, King has asked the Supreme Court if Florida's death sentencing law is invalid because it is similar to an Arizona law the court found unconstitutional earlier this year. The law was struck down because it allowed a judge, not a jury, to decide facts used to warrant a death sentence.
The stay granted Tuesday by the Atlanta court was the third King has received this year - and Wednesday's order by the high court was the third time a reprieve has been overturned.
The state also plans to execute a second man this week. Linroy Bottoson is scheduled to be executed Friday for the murder of an elderly woman in Central Florida 23 years ago.
The state planned to execute King and Bottoson 11 months ago, but the men had been issued reprieves as both the U.S. and Florida high courts considered challenges to Arizona's capital punishment law and its relation to Florida law. Florida juries recommend whether convicted killers are sentenced to life in prison or death, but judges have the final say.
King was condemned for murdering Natalie Brady, 68, in her Tarpon Springs home in 1977 and setting the place ablaze after slipping away from a work-release prison. He was caught, in bloody clothing, trying to slip back in.
Bottoson, 63, was convicted of killing Catherine Alexander, the Eatonville postmistress, in 1979. He robbed the 74-year-old woman, held her captive for 83 hours, stabbed her 16 times and finally killed her by running over her several times with a car.
King's jury voted unanimously to recommend that he be executed; Bottoson's jury voted 10-2 in favor of death.

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