The Latest: Georgia executes former Navy crewman

AP News
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Posted: Feb 17, 2016 8:34 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the scheduled execution of 45-year-old Travis Hittson for a 1992 murder in Georgia. (all times local):

8:30 p.m.

Georgia has executed a former Navy crewman for killing a fellow sailor whose dismembered remains were found in two states.

Authorities say Travis Hittson was pronounced dead at 8:14 p.m. Wednesday following a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson. The 45-year-old inmate was convicted in the April 1992 killing of fellow sailor Conway Utterbeck.

Court documents show Hittson, then stationed in Pensacola, Florida, went with Utterbeck and fellow sailor Edward Vollmer to the home of Vollmer's parents in Warner Robins, Georgia. Hittson and Vollmer went out drinking and killed Utterbeck upon returning home, dismembering his body with the saw.

Hittson's attorneys had sought clemency, arguing that Hittson was very remorseful and had been manipulated by Vollmer to kill Utterbeck. Vollmer, who reached a plea deal with prosecutors, is serving a life sentence for the killing.

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7:30 p.m.

The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a stay of execution for a Georgia prisoner whose lawyers say their client's constitutional rights were violated.

Travis Hittson, a former Navy crewman, was convicted in the 1992 murder of fellow sailor Conway Utterbeck. He was set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

His lawyers contend his constitutional rights were violated during sentencing when a judge allowed a state psychologist who had examined Hittson to recount damaging statements Hittson had made about Utterbeck.

A judge in Butts County on Tuesday rejected those arguments and the Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday said Hittson's request for the court to consider his appeal lacks merit under state law.

Edward Vollmer, who was also accused in the killing, reached a plea deal with prosecutors and is serving a life sentence. He was denied parole in 1999 and again last year. When his parole was denied last year, the board said it would next consider his case in 2020.

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5 p.m.

Lawyers for a Georgia prisoner who is hours away from being put to death are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review their claims that their client's constitutional rights were violated.

Travis Hittson, a former Navy crewman, was convicted in the 1992 murder of fellow sailor Conway Utterbeck. He's set to be executed at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

His lawyers contend his constitutional rights were violated during sentencing when a judge allowed a state psychologist who had examined Hittson to recount damaging statements Hittson had made about Utterbeck.

A judge in Butts County on Tuesday rejected those arguments and the Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday said Hittson's request for the court to consider his appeal lacks merit under state law.

Hittson's lawyers are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Georgia Supreme Court's rejection.

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4:15 p.m.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has delayed the next parole consideration for the co-defendant of a man who's set to be executed Wednesday.

Travis Hittson, a former Navy crewman, is set to die by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at 7 p.m. at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted in the April 1992 murder of fellow sailor Conway Utterbeck.

Edward Vollmer, who was also accused in the killing, reached a plea deal with prosecutors and is serving a life sentence. He was denied parole in 1999 and again last year. When his parole was denied last year, the board said it would next consider his case in 2020.

But based on evidence offered Tuesday at Hittson's clemency hearing, the board on Wednesday reset the reconsideration of his case for 2024, the maximum delay allowed by parole board rules.

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3 p.m.

Georgia's highest court has rejected an appeal from a prisoner who is hours away from being put to death and denied a stay of execution.

In a brief, unanimous order Wednesday afternoon, the Georgia Supreme Court said Travis Hittson's request for the court to consider his appeal lacks merit under state law.

A judge in Butts County on Tuesday rejected a legal challenge by the 45-year-old Hittson, a former Navy crewman who was convicted in the 1992 murder of a fellow sailor.

Hittson's lawyers contend his constitutional rights were violated during sentencing when a judge allowed a state psychologist who had examined Hittson to recount damaging statements Hittson had made about Utterbeck.

Also on Tuesday, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a clemency petition from Hittson.

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11:30 a.m.

Lawyers for a Georgia prisoner who is hours away from execution are appealing to the state Supreme Court after a judge rejected their client's appeal.

The judge in Butts County on Tuesday rejected a legal challenge by 45-year-old Travis Hittson, a former Navy crewman who was convicted in the 1992 murder of a fellow sailor.

Hittson's lawyers contend his constitutional rights were violated during sentencing when a judge allowed a state psychologist who had examined Hittson to recount damaging statements Hittson had made about Utterbeck.

State lawyers say those arguments have previously been raised and rejected by the courts and are procedurally barred.

Also on Tuesday, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles rejected a clemency petition from Hittson.

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3 a.m.

Georgia is set to execute a former Navy crewman who killed a fellow sailor.

Travis Hittson, who's 45, is scheduled to receive an injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the state prison in Jackson. He was convicted in the April 1992 killing of Conway Utterbeck.

Court documents show Hittson, who was stationed in Pensacola, Florida, went with Utterbeck and a third sailor, Edward Vollmer, to Vollmer's parents' home in Warner Robins. Hittson and Vollmer went out drinking and killed Utterbeck upon returning home.

Hittson's lawyers had argued his life should be spared because he's shown great remorse and because Vollmer manipulated him into killing Utterbeck.

Vollmer reached a plea deal with prosecutors and is serving a life sentence for the killing.

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This 4:15 p.m. item has been corrected to say the new date for parole board reconsideration is the maximum allowed by the parole board rules, not by the law.