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Appeal for last-minute reprieve for US prisoner facing execution


Willie Pye - Image: CMN

Willie Pye - Image: CMN

The US State of Georgia has suddenly announced the upcoming execution of Willie Pye, 58, a man convicted of murder 28 years ago. The date has been set for next Wednesday, 20 March. Campaigners are appealing for a last-minute reprieve.

Willie's first death sentence was reversed due to his court-appointed attorney's failure to investigate his background, but it was reinstated on appeal. Mr Pye's court-appointed trial attorney, Johnny Mostiler, has been accused of ineffective representation or racial bias in at least four other cases involving Black defendants and he reportedly called one of his own clients a "little n****r." Mr Pye also has "undisputed" signs of intellectual disability, with a low IQ and a history of learning difficulties.

Catholic Mobilising Network said: "Willie was raised in an environment riddled with poverty, abuse, and neglect. His ineffective council failed to provide any of these mitigating factors in his case. He has an IQ of 68 - a score which suggests he is intellectually disabled. The US Supreme Court prohibits the execution of intellectually disabled people, but allows each state to determine what qualifies a defense of intellectually disability. In Georgia, the burden of proof is untenable."

"This execution would be the first execution in Georgia since 2020. When Willie's death warrant was signed he was immediately moved to a new cell where he is to remain until his execution. In his final days, he was removed from everything he has known for almost three decades.

"He has a deep faith and after all these years is altogether a changed man. The teaching of the Church on capital punishment is very clear. Please pray for him, for his for loved ones and for the repose of his soul, and that he may have courage in facing his ordeal."

Ben Bano, Chair, National Mental Health and Spirituality Forum Co- Director, 'Seeking Sanctuary' in Kent, writes: "There is a personal connection - I have been his pen friend for over ten years and I can testify as to his deep faith and his generous character."

The address for a last minute stay is GaParoleBoard@pap.ga.gov.

Further information and advice from Amnesty can be found here: https://amnesty.ca/urgent-actions/usa-willie-pye-58-faces-execution-in-georgia/

Archbishop Gregory J Hartmayer, OFM Conv has written a letter to the Board of Pardons and Paroles supporting Willie's clemency request: https://georgiabulletin.org/news/2024/03/archbishop-hartmayer-asks-for-clemency-for-death-row-inmate-willie-pye/

For more information see: Catholic Mobilizing Network: https://catholicsmobilizing.org/

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