Alabama death row inmate: State ignoring claims of innocence

AP News
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Posted: Aug 24, 2015 3:01 PM

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The latest Alabama inmate seeking freedom from death row maintains the state is wrongly ignoring his claims of innocence while his health fails behind bars, one of his attorneys said Monday.

Legal arguments filed by Donnis Musgrove contend the state is arguing about technicalities rather addressing legitimate concerns about the man's 1988 conviction and death sentence.

Musgrove's appeal is currently in federal court, and the defense is asking the judge to rule quickly because the prisoner has lung cancer and was hospitalized last week in grave condition, said Cissy Jackson, one of his lawyers.

"We would love to get him out of prison ... so he could have some peace after being wrongfully imprisoned for so many years," said Jackson.

Out of the hospital and sent back to Donaldson prison near Birmingham, Musgrove will be treated in the prison infirmary for an indefinite period, Jackson said.

The attorney general's office declined to comment on Musgrove's legal arguments.

The state has argued that rules prohibit Musgrove from making new claims about being innocent and bar him from questioning evidence used in his trial, but prosecutors haven't directly addressed his arguments about being wrongfully convicted based on bogus evidence conjured by prosecutors and police.

Musgrove, 67, was sentenced to die for the gunshot killing of Coy Eugene Barron in 1986, but his attorneys maintain the prosecution falsified every piece of evidence against him, including witness statements and a shell casing that was used to link him to the slaying.

The defense earlier this year asked a federal judge in Birmingham to overturn Musgrove's conviction, and his lawyers filed a brief late Friday accusing the state of failing to address questions about innocence.

Prosecutors had no immediate response, and they won't necessarily have to file additional documents before U.S. District Judge David Proctor rules on Musgrove's bid for freedom.

Musgrove is trying to become the third inmate freed from Alabama's death row since April. Lawyers asked Proctor to rule quickly because of Musgrove's ill health.

Two other men have been released from Alabama's death row since April after winning appeals. One of them, Anthony Ray Hinton, was tried by the same Jefferson County prosecutor and judge who handled Musgrove's case, and the same ballistics expert was involved in each case.

Musgrove contends the evidence of wrongdoing in his case is more extensive than in the case against Hinton.