Alabama executes man for 1982 murder-for-hire

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ATMORE, Ala. - An inmate once called the "Houdini" of Alabama's death row for escaping seven past execution dates through legal challenges was put to death early Friday for a 1982 murder-for-hire shooting.

Tommy Arthur, 75, was pronounced dead at 12:15 a.m. CDT Friday following a lethal injection administered at a southwest Alabama prison, authorities said. Arthur was convicted of killing riverboat engineer Troy Wicker, who was fatally shot as he slept in his bed in the north Alabama city of Muscle Shoals.

"Thirty-four years after he was first sentenced to death ... Thomas Arthur's protracted attempt to escape justice is finally at an end," Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a statement. "Most importantly, tonight, the family of Troy Wicker can begin the long-delayed process of recovery from a painful loss."

In his final statement, Arthur appeared to cry and got choked up as he said he wanted to apologize to his four children and said each of their names. "I'm sorry I failed you as a father. I love you more than anything on earth," Arthur said. He waved his fingers up in the direction of his daughters, who watched from a witness room.

Wicker's two sons witnessed the execution but did not make a statement to the media.

Arthur's lawyers filed a flurry of last-minute appeals in a bid to halt the execution, but the U.S. Supreme Court opened the way for the execution to proceed shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday. The state prison system began administering the lethal injection drugs around 11:50 p.m. before the death warrant expired at midnight. He was not pronounced dead until after midnight.

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My sympathy is always with the victims and their families.