TV execution ruling

Click to follow
WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court last night was expected to rule on requests by convicted killer David Lawson to have his execution in a North Carolina gas chamber halted - or that if it went ahead, it should be televised by a leading US talk show programme, writes Rupert Cornwell.

Lawson, 38, convicted of murder during a 1980 robbery, was due to die at 2am today. But his lawyers filed a last-ditch plea for a stay, which the nine Justices, who were not in formal session yesterday, were to consider in a conference call.

A few hours earlier in a taped special edition of the Phil Donahue show, Lawson apologised to the family of his victim, Wayne Shinn. Shinn's relatives, who planned to attend the execution, brushed aside the apology. They dismissed as a publicity stunt Lawson's request for Donahue to film his death.

Lawson said the presence of cameras would give meaning to his life. But the director of Raleigh's Central Prison, as well as two lower courts, rejected his request. The Supreme Court was not expected to reverse the ruling.