Earl Grey - then death at midnight

UNLESS a last-ditch appeal wins a stay of execution, Suffolk-born John Elliott will tonight face the sentence which has hung over him for 16 years.Elliott, known to his family as "Jackie", has requested a last meal of Earl Grey tea and biscuits before he dies by lethal injection.

By Richard Cornwell

UNLESS a last-ditch appeal wins a stay of execution, Suffolk-born John Elliott will tonight face the sentence which has hung over him for 16 years.

Elliott, known to his family as "Jackie", has requested a last meal of Earl Grey tea and biscuits before he dies by lethal injection.

He will be moved from the Polunsky Unit at Livingston, Texas, to the Walls Unit at Huntsville during the day ready for his execution, which is scheduled for 6pm US time, midnight GMT.


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It will be watched by a handful of journalists, his sister, and relatives of 18-year-old Joyce Munguia, who he was convicted of raping and murdering in 1987.

Vigils will be held outside the prison by supporters of the Citizens' United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and at Westminster Abbey in London by human rights organisations Amnesty International UK and Reprieve UK.

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The London vigil will take place from 5pm to midnight and campaigners will hold 16 lanterns to mark the 16 years that Elliot has been on death row.

Although time is running out supporters of Elliott, 42, who was born in Felixstowe and lived at the resort with his parents Robert – who was stationed at USAF Bentwaters airbase – and Dorothy, until he was four, were still hopeful.

Andie Lambe, of Reprieve, said: "We are still hopeful that a stay can be granted but as the time gets closer to the execution it becomes more and more difficult.

"We believe it is right that every bit of evidence should be heard before a death sentence should be passed and that this case deserves that – there is new evidence which needs to be examined."

The campaigners were dealt a major blow last night when a US court rejected requests by defence lawyers to allow crucial DNA testing.

They believe the testing of blood spattered on another suspect's shoes using forensic techniques which were not available in 1987 could prove Elliott's innocence or at least cast "serious doubt" on whether he was the murderer.

The Texas Pardons and Parole Board is still to make its recommendation on clemency and lawyers have the opportunity to make further appeals throughout today, right up to the US Supreme Court.

Elliott's UK lawyer, Hugh Southey, said: "Whether you are in favour or against the death penalty, any rational person would oppose the execution of any individual while such important questions remain unanswered."

"We have spoken to every one of the original jurors from Jackie's trial and every one of them has said explicitly that they want DNA testing in this case before the sentence is carried out.

"This case will go down to the final wire, but there are still good grounds for optimism."

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