Paul W. Powell will not be executed tomorrow night.
U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts granted a stay of execution today pending review of his petition for a writ of certiorari to the high court.
The three-sentence order indicates that Powell shouldn’t put but so much faith in the stay, however.
If the court denies the petition, “this stay shall terminate automatically,” according to the order. If it is granted, the stay will not end until the Supreme Court decides the case, the order says.
Powell was condemned for the 1999 murder of Stacie Lynn Reed in her Prince William County home.He was actually sentenced to death twice. The Virginia Supreme Court reversed the first death penalty because it was based on the murder of Stacie and rape of the victim’s sister. The court ruled that Powell could be executed only if he raped or attempted to rape Stacie.
After the reversal, Powell wrote the prosecutor that he had attempted to rape Stacie before he killed her.
The letter was introduced as evidence in the second trial, and the Supreme Court and federal courts reviewing the death penalty have rejected Powell’s claim that the second trial amounted to double jeopardy.
By Alan Cooper