US Supreme Court denies appeal of death row inmate

Published 1:52 pm Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Mississippi attorney general’s office is asking the state Supreme Court to set a July 21 execution date for Joseph Daniel Burns.

The Monday court filing came hours after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Burns’ appeal.

Attorney General Jim Hood has said Burns is one of at least three Mississippi inmates who could be executed before the end of the year. One of the others is Frederick Bell.

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The identity of the third inmate possibly to be executed is unclear. Hood’s office said 11 Mississippi death penalty appeals are pending in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

In his motion filed with the Mississippi court, Hood said the decision by the U.S. high court “brings to a conclusion the challenges by Burns in state and federal court to his sentence of death.”

The Mississippi court has not set a date for Burns’ attorneys to respond to the request.

Burns, now 42, was sentenced to death in Lee County in 1996. He was convicted in the 1994 robbery and murder of a motel clerk.

Prosecutors said Burns stabbed Floyd Melvin McBride to death at the Town House Motel while an accomplice opened the motel safe. The two men then fled with money from the safe.

The state of Mississippi executed two inmates on consecutive days in May, the first back-to-back executions in the state in nearly 50 years. Paul Everette Woodward was executed on May 19 and Gerald James Holland on May 20.