Condemned murderer William Andrews has asked the state Board of Pardons for a commutation hearing, contending among other things that he is the only Utah death-row inmate who never personally killed anyone.
Andrews, 34, faces execution by injection on Aug. 22, although his attorney said he plans to file another appeal in U.S. District Court within the next 10 days.The petition filed Thursday may be a formality for Andrews, who, after 14 years, is the longest-standing death-row inmate in Utah.
Under state law, an inmate must apply for a commutation hearing within 10 days of being sentenced to death, but the hearing cannot take place unless all appeals have been exhausted, Board of Pardons Administrator Paul Sheffield said Friday.
Gordon Greiner, Andrews' attorney in Denver, said an appeal will be filed in federal court, but he would not elaborate on its content. State and federal courts have rejected Andrews' appeals 10 times and repeatedly denied rehearings.
A new death warrant was issued by 2nd District Judge Ronald O. Hyde on July 5 in the wake of the Utah Supreme Court's refusal in June to rehear the appeal it rejected late last year.
Andrews, of Jonesboro, La., was convicted in 1974 of the torture-slayings of three people during a robbery at the Hi Fi Shop in Ogden. Five people were forced to drink a caustic drain cleaner, one woman was raped and all were shot, although two men survived.
Andrews' co-defendant, Dale Pierre Selby, acknowledged during his 1987 commutation hearing that he had fired the fatal shots and testimony showed he had raped the woman. The board refused to commute his sentence, and he was executed by injection in August 1987.
In his three-page petition, Andrews argued he was the only person on Utah's death row "whom the state admits did not cause the death of any person," Sheffield said.
Andrews also argued to the jury that his role in the killings had been "greatly exaggerated," that childhood deprivations left him with a low IQ and passive personality, and that he was the victim of racial prejudice in sentencing. Andrews and Selby, both black, were airmen at Hill Air Force Base.
Andrews said he was only 19 at the time and was dominated by the older Selby, that he had no significant prior criminal history and that he had made "substantial, though ineffectual," efforts to dissuade Selby from killing the victims and left the scene before the shots were fired.
Under state law, only a majority of the three-member pardons panel can commute a death sentence, and only for extraordinary reasons.
State and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have rejected Andrews' appeals, many saying that even though he was not the triggerman he was equally responsible for the deaths and had helped Selby administer the drain cleaner they thought would prove fatal.
The Utah Supreme Court most recently rejected Andrews' contentions that the jury should have been told it could convict him of lesser homicide charges and that his attorney lacked the experience to adequately represent him at trial and in direct appeal.
The justices concurred with the state, which has maintained those issues should have been argued much earlier.