April 16, 2001 (RICHMOND, Va.) - The inmate who has been on Virginia's death row the longest received a stay of execution the day before he was scheduled to die for the murder of a teenaged boy when the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear his appeals.
Walter Mickens Jr. argues that he received an unfair trial in 1994 because, unknown to him, his court-appointed lawyer had represented the victim only a few days before Timothy Hall's death. A lower court rejected the appeal on the grounds that Mickens' lawyers had not demonstrated that the apparent conflict of interest hurt his case.
Mickens had been scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection at 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. David Botkin, a spokesman for the state Attorney General, said that the court's decision to hear the case gives Mickens an automatic stay. The justices are expected to schedule oral argument in the fall, and a ruling could come weeks or months later.
The body of the 17-year-old Hall was found under a building in Newport News. Prosecutors said that the teenager had been raped before he was stabbed more than 100 times.