Just hours before Christopher S. Emmett was scheduled to die for beating a co-worker to death while stealing money for drugs, Gov. Tim Kaine granted him a reprieve, reports The Associated Press.
The governor said he wants to give the U.S. Supreme Court until Oct. 17 to consider granting Emmett’s appeal.
Emmett is claiming his defense attorney was incompetent, arguing that the lawyer ignored evidence of an abusive childhood that could have helped at sentencing.
The Supreme Court of Virginia in 2004 agreed with Emmett’s current defense team that his trial lawyer was inadequate, but the justices cited a defferent reason; the court said he had failed to object to a faulty sentencing form given to the jury. But that didn’t matter, the high court concluded. The error wouldn’t have stopped the jury from giving Emmett the death penalty, the court said, affirming the conviction.
Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Emmett’s request for a stay of execution, although four justices said they would have granted the reprieve. The U.S. high court now will have an opportunity to determine if it wants to take Emmett’s case.