Wilcher’s new execution date set for middle of next week

Published 5:49 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Mississippi Supreme Court on Monday set an Oct. 18 execution date for Bobby Glen Wilcher, who had received a reprieve from the nation’s highest court moments before he was to have been put to death in July.

The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined without comment to hear an appeal from Wilcher’s attorney.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court wrote: “After due consideration, this court finds that no impediment exists to setting an execution date.”

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State prison official have said they’d be prepared to carry out the execution on short notice. Wilcher is to be put to death by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Oct. 18.

Wilcher, now 43, was sentenced to death for killing Katie Belle Moore and Velma Odell Noblin in 1982. After meeting them at a Forest bar, Wilcher persuaded the women to drive him home and diverted them down a deserted road.

Their blood-soaked bodies were found sprawled along the muddy banks of the dirt road. Each woman had been stabbed and slashed more than 20 times, according to authorities.

Wilcher’s case has gone through two trials, two re-sentencing hearings and countless appeals.

In court papers filed this past Friday, Wilcher said that he wanted to revive his federal appeals. He asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to not set an execution date until his appeals are finished.

Those papers were filed days after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal and state attorney general’s office asked the state court to set an execution date for Wilcher.

The attorney general’s office asked that an execution date be set on or before Nov. 1, saying the action by the nation’s high court “brings this litigation to an end.”

On July 11, execution witnesses were in place at the state penitentiary at Parchman and Wilcher had eaten what was supposed to be his last meal when the U.S. Supreme Court halted the execution, saying it wanted the chance to review his case.

Speculation had been that the U.S. Supreme Court might consider Wilcher’s appeal to settle whether constitutional protections against executing the mentally retarded should be extended to the mentally ill. Wilcher takes medication for a bipolar disorder, a chemical imbalance which some doctors say causes people to experience extreme highs on the one pole, and depression on the other.

Past cases have also shown the justices were interested in when to cut off a condemned inmate’s appeals.

In June, Wilcher told a federal judge he wanted to drop his appeals and the July 11 execution date was set. Wilcher himself then filed an appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying he had changed his mind. The 5th Circuit declined to stop the execution.

Hood had said earlier he would move quickly to seek a new execution date as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

Johnson, Wilcher’s attorney, said he would then launch a new round of appeals for Wilcher, who was returned to death row at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman after his execution was canceled.

Mississippi’s last execution was this past December, when John B. Nixon Sr. died by lethal injection for the 1985 contract killing of Virginia Tucker of Brandon.