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Georgia executes ninth death row inmate this year

Georgia has executed its ninth inmate this year, putting to death a man convicted of killing his father-in-law more than a quarter of a century ago.

William Sallie, 50, was pronounced dead after a lethal injection at the state prison in Jackson.

Lawyers who had sought to block the execution said Sallie should have been granted a new trial because of alleged juror bias, but courts have not properly considered that evidence because he missed a filing deadline by eight days at a time when he did not have legal representation, his lawyers said in court filings.

Georgia has put to death more people this year than any other state, including Texas with seven.

Sallie was convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of John Lee Moore in March 1990. His first conviction and death sentence were overturned because his lawyer had a conflict of interest.

At his second trial in 2001, a woman eventually chosen as a juror lied during jury selection and failed to disclose domestic violence, messy divorces and a child custody battle that were "bizarrely similar" to Sallie's case, his lawyers said.

They added that she later bragged to their investigator that she persuaded her divided peers to vote unanimously for death.

The defence team made those arguments in a clemency petition to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, urging it to act as a "fail safe" against a miscarriage of justice. But the board, the only authority in Georgia with power to commute a death sentence, declined to spare Sallie's life following a clemency hearing on Monday.

Sallie's lawyers asked the US Supreme Court to stop the scheduled execution, but it declined. They argued that the high court's ruling in a pending Texas case with ineffective counsel issues could have removed the procedural bars keeping the lower federal courts from considering juror-bias claims.

Lawyers for the state argued the Texas case was not similar enough that its outcome would affect Sallie, particularly because that case did not involve a federal petition that was not filed on time.

Furthermore, they argue, even if the issues were identical, the federal appeals court in Atlanta is bound by its own precedent - which does not allow such an extraordinary admission of the procedurally barred evidence - and not by the future possibility of new precedent from the Supreme Court.

Sallie's lawyers also argued in a state court petition that his execution would violate his constitutional rights. Lawyers for the state rejected those claims and a court dismissed the petition.

At the time of the killing, Sallie's wife was living with her parents in rural south Georgia after having filed for divorce and after the two had fought bitterly over custody of their young son.

After cutting his in-laws' phone lines and breaking into their house on March 29 1990, Sallie went to the master bedroom and shot John and Linda Moore, according to a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case. Mr Moore died from his injuries, and his wife was injured.

Sallie then took his wife and her sister to his mobile home, leaving his son behind, the summary says. Sallie released his wife and her sister that night and was arrested a short time later.

Sallie's lawyers have said the shooting was a botched attempt to take his son and leave.

There have been 18 executions so far this year in the US, including those in Georgia and Texas and one each in Alabama, Florida and Missouri. Alabama has one more scheduled for Thursday.

Sallie received visits on Tuesday from six family members, four friends, three clergy members and four paralegals.

AP

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