- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2006

RICHMOND — Barring intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court or Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a man who killed a fellow inmate during a pagan ceremony will be executed today.

Michael Lenz, 42, is scheduled to die by injection at 9 p.m. at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt for the murder of Brent Parker, 41.

Lenz and another inmate, Jeffrey Remington, were sentenced to death in 2000 for stabbing Parker a combined 68 times with makeshift knives at the Augusta Correctional Center.

The three inmates were followers of the Nordic pagan religion Asatru and belonged to a group known as the Ironwood Kindred.

The group was gathered for a ceremony when Lenz and Remington attacked Parker.

Lenz testified that Parker had not been taking the religion seriously, and to protect the honor of the gods, Parker had to be punished. Lenz also testified he felt threatened by Parker, who was serving a 50-year sentence for murder.

Remington committed suicide on death row in 2004.

Jane Ruck, who runs the National Prison Kindred Alliance and ministers to Asatru inmates, called Lenz’s actions dishonorable and not in line with true Asatru beliefs.

Instead, Lenz should have simply asked Parker to leave the kindred — not resorted to murder, said Miss Ruck, adding that under Asatru’s ancient laws, Lenz’s punishment for killing Parker could have included hanging or banishment.

Lenz’s attorneys said Parker had threatened to kill both Lenz and Remington.

Lenz testified that Parker twice told him he would sharpen the point of a cane he carried and stab Lenz with it, attorney Matthew Engle said. Parker also repeatedly threatened to kill Remington, and Lenz thought Parker was casting spells on him, Mr. Engle said.

In their petition to the high court, Lenz’s attorneys contend jurors in his case admitted they had consulted a Bible during their sentencing deliberations, and that one juror said some jurors pointed to passages in the Bible that supported the death penalty for killers.

Lenz’s attorneys argue the jurors’ consultation of the Bible was an outside influence that denied Lenz the right to a fair and impartial trial.

Lenz’s attorneys also argue that the verdict forms supplied to the jury failed to include all sentencing options.

The governor and his legal team continued to consider Lenz’s clemency petition yesterday, Kaine spokesman Kevin Hall said.

Augusta County Commonwealth’s Attorney A. Lee Ervin, who prosecuted the Lenz case, said Lenz deserves the death penalty because of to the extreme nature of Parker’s murder.

“It was a right brutal attack,” Mr. Ervin said. “I’m not saying Mr. Parker was a nice person … but the fact of the matter is that when this happened, there was no evidence at all that it was self-defense.”

Parker’s mother, Bonnie Parker, 71, of Paw Paw, W.Va., said she is ambivalent about the execution, but she added that her granddaughter Heather — Parker’s daughter — thinks Lenz deserves to die.

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