- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 28, 2005

RICHMOND (AP) — Attorneys for a man scheduled to be put to death next month filed an application with the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday requesting a stay of execution.

Robin Lovitt’s attorneys said they also asked the high court for a review of a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that upheld his death sentence.

Lovitt, 41, is scheduled for execution July 11. He was convicted in 1999 of stabbing 45-year-old Clayton Dicks with a pair of scissors during a 1998 pool hall robbery in Arlington.

His attorneys also were planning to file a petition for clemency from Gov. Mark Warner, though they were not sure when that would happen, said one of the attorneys, Steven Engel.

An independent team of scientists concluded last week that the state crime lab properly handled the DNA evidence in Lovitt’s case.

The scientists are examining more than 160 cases handled by the lab as part of a study ordered by Mr. Warner last month after an independent audit sharply criticized the lab’s performance in a high-profile murder case.

Mr. Engel said he had not seen the results of the team’s review, so he was unable to comment .

If Mr. Warner receives a clemency petition from Lovitt’s attorneys, the governor likely will ask the review team again whether it stands by its conclusion, Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said yesterday.

The Supreme Court of Virginia in 2000 found no error on the part of the trial court and affirmed Lovitt’s conviction and death sentence. The following year, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider Lovitt’s appeal.

Former independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr represented Lovitt before the 4th Circuit in February, arguing that Lovitt was denied his due process rights because a court clerk destroyed much of the physical evidence in the case, making post-conviction DNA testing impossible.

The appeals court in April rejected Mr. Starr’s argument.

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