- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to review the case of a man scheduled to be executed this month, though he could win a reprieve while the high court considers the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures.

Christopher Scott Emmett, 36, is slated to die Oct. 17 for the 2001 bludgeoning death of a co-worker in Danville. Emmett was just two hours from being put to death in June when Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, delayed the execution in order to give the high court more time to consider hearing Emmett’s appeal.

Last week, the Supreme Court decided to review whether the lethal injection method most states use is cruel and unusual, based on a challenge from two inmates on death row in Kentucky. The court is not expected to hear that case until early next year.

Emmett’s attorneys asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay and have been in discussions with Mr. Kaine about delaying the execution until the high court rules in the Kentucky case, said Matthew Engle, one of the lawyers representing Emmett.

Virginia, which has executed more people than every state but Texas, uses the same three-drug lethal-injection cocktail as Kentucky.

Those who oppose capital punishment argue that inmates who aren’t properly anesthetized could feel excruciating pain without being able to cry out.

On Sept. 20, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson dismissed Emmett’s claims that Virginia’s procedures violate the Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Judge Hudson did, however, write that while Virginia’s procedures “are constitutionally adequate, the inconsistencies demonstrated by the evidence are disturbing and may warrant administrative review.”

Emmett has appealed Judge Hudson’s decision to the 4th Circuit, which has not ruled on the matter. If the 4th Circuit declines to issue a stay, Emmett will appeal to the Supreme Court, Mr. Engle said.

Kevin Hall, a spokesman for Mr. Kaine, said Emmett’s initial clemency request is pending before the governor. Mr. Engle said they are amending the clemency petition to include a request that Emmett’s execution be delayed until the Supreme Court rules in the Kentucky case.

Once the petition is amended, the governor “will give it the consideration it deserves,” Mr. Hall said.

Emmett bludgeoned John Fenton Langley, 43, with a brass lamp in a Danville motel room in 2001 in order to rob him of cash to buy crack cocaine.

Mr. Langley and Emmett were friends and were working together in Danville as part of an out-of-town roofing crew. On the night of the killing, Emmett joined Mr. Langley and their co-workers for dinner and a game of cards at their motel.

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