Judge denies stay of Kentucky execution

COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A Kentucky judge on Wednesday denied two requests to halt the impending execution of an inmate convicted of murder and rape, saying the arguments were too flimsy to support a stay.

Kenton Circuit Judge Gregory Bartlett ruled that there was "overwhelming evidence" of Gregory L. Wilson's guilt and said that a DNA test of two decade-old evidence wouldn't prove his innocence. Bartlett also didn't find enough evidence to support a claim that Wilson, 53, is mentally retarded.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing the mentally retarded is unconstitutional.

Wilson, an Ohio native, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Sept. 16. He was convicted of raping and murdering popular restaurant employee Deborah Pooley. A co-defendant in the case, Brenda Humphrey, is serving a life sentence.

Wilson and Humphrey forced Pooley, an Ohio woman who was then living in northern Kentucky, into the back seat of her car on May 29, 1987. Wilson raped and later strangled her while Humphrey drove.

Wilson's attorneys from the Louisville public defender's office argued that an IQ test given to their client in 1971 showed an IQ of 62, well below the legal marker for mental retardation of 70. They also argued that bodily fluids collected from the crime scene, as well as the car used, have never been DNA tested. The judge found both requests lacking, calling Wilson's school records a "fairly thin offer of evidence."

Wilson's attorneys indicated after the hearing they planned to appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court. Defense attorney Leo Smith argued that hair and bodily fluids were used to bolster the credibility of the co-defendant and a snitch. While the hair is now missing, the bodily fluids are available and have never been tested.

"It was critical to the Commonwealth's case," Smith said. Assistant Attorney General Heather Fryman told the judge that Wilson used Pooley's credit cards in multiple states after the murder.

The bodily fluids and other evidence, even if they don't match Wilson, wouldn't make a difference, she said.

"It still doesn't prove he didn't murder Ms. Pooley," Fryman said.

Wilson has also intervened in a separate case brought by three other death row inmates challenging the way Kentucky adopted the lethal injection protocol. The attorney in that case, public defender David Barron, has asked a judge in Frankfort to enforce an injunction halting all executions the Kentucky Supreme Court.

A hearing has been set for Sept. 8. The high court stopped executions in November because the protocol was not adopted properly, but the state has since readopted the three-drug protocol.

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