Hopes death row man may be saved
SUPPORTERS of a Suffolk-born man on death row are cautiously optimistic of clemency today.Their hopes come despite the fact Jackie Elliott faces execution before lawyers are allowed to present new evidence they believe could prove his innocence.
SUFFOLK Coastal MP John Gummer said he is optimistic that a Suffolk-born man on death row will be given clemency today.
His hopes come despite the fact Jackie Elliott faces execution before lawyers are allowed to present new evidence they believe could prove his innocence.
Elliott, who was born on the former Bentwaters air base, is due to die by lethal injection in Texas tomorrow evening for the murder and rape of a teenager in 1986.
But his lawyers fear a delay in an 11th hour appeal for a stay of execution – which followed their demand the judge should be removed from the case – might not be resolved until after he is put to death.
Mr Gummer said: "I am always optimistic and we shall go on working and I hope very much that Jackie Elliott will have a chance to prove his innocence.
"Last-minute work is being done by the British Government - we have had enormous support from the Home Secretary and the embassy - to see if we can get the thing commuted.
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"I have become more and more convinced that he is innocent."
However Richard Bourke, one of Elliott's lawyers, said: "There is a very real possibility that he could be executed while the legal process is still trundling on.
"It's an absurd and desperate situation. It is extremely hard to get an emergency stay of execution and if the legal authorities here don't sort out the issue of the judge in time, they may just go ahead and kill him regardless."
Defence lawyers called for Texas judge Jon Wisser to be disqualified last week after he sent a letter to the local media before the hearing began saying Elliott deserved to die.
Mr Bourke said the letter showed the judge had prejudged the result of the appeal, which is set to determine if the execution should be postponed until crucial DNA evidence can be tested in the case.
The letter said: "Never have I come into contact with a defendant more deserving of the ultimate penalty. The only tragedy is that this case has lingered so long."
Elliott has spent the past 16 years on death row after being convicted of killing 19-year-old Joyce Munguia in 1987.
The 42-year-old claimed he had been found guilty because of evidence from police informers who were covering their own guilt.