Saturday, October 04, 2003

Convicted murderer, rapist granted stay of execution

A man convicted of raping and killing his aunt in 1987 was granted an indefinite stay of execution Monday after he argued that he received ineffective counsel at his trial and police illegally obtained his confession.

Earnest Ulyesses Morrison, 43, had been set to die by lethal injection Wednesday night at the state prison in Jackson. Butts County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson issued a stay Monday.

...Morrison was convicted of the 1987 rape and murder of Edna Mary Griffin, his aunt, in Richmond County. At the time of the murder, Morrison was a fugitive from the Aiken, S.C., jail, where he was being held on rape and robbery charges.

...His current lawyer, Tom Dunn, said Morrison is mentally retarded and suffers from paranoid delusions. In court papers, Dunn said Morrisons trial lawyers _ O.L. Collins and Percy Blount _ did not do anything to prepare for the sentencing hearing and turned down the judges offer to give them more time.

Mondays stay gives the court time to decide whether Morrisons appeal should be granted. Previous attempts by Morrison to have him deemed mentally retarded have failed.

...Since 1976, Georgia has executed 33 convicts, according to the Washington D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center. Two people have been executed so far this year.

In the state, 116 people await execution on death row, the center reported.