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Supreme court rebuffs death row appeals

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WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned away appeals from 11 death row prisoners in seven states, including one who killed his adoptive parents and continued to live in their home as their bodies decomposed, then cleaned up the scene so he could have a party for friends.

The justices' orders declining to review the cases were not unexpected, given the court's ruling last week in a Kentucky case that the state's procedure for lethal injections did not amount to unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. Barriers to executions in other states May also be lifted soon.

Three of the cases that the high court refused to take on Monday were from Georgia, and three more from Ohio. Individual cases from Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Arizona and Texas were also turned away.

In Texas, Carlton Turner Jr. came close to being put to death last September, then was spared when the Supreme Court said it would consider the Kentucky case, in which two convicted killers contended that Kentucky's procedures could cause them unconstitutionally severe pain.

Turner was 19 in 1998, when he shot Carlton Turner Sr., 43, and his wife, Tonya, 40, several times in the head at their home near Dallas, and then went on a spending spree, using one of his parents' credit cards to buy clothes and jewelry. After that, the defendant put the bodies in the garage before entertaining his friends at the house, prosecutors said.

The crime was discovered after neighbors called the police because they had not seen the Turners for days, but had seen Carlton Jr. driving his parents' cars.

Among the other prisoners whose appeals were turned away on Monday were Earl W. Berry of Mississippi and Thomas Arthur of Alabama.

Berry, 48, was convicted of abducting and killing a woman in 1987 as she was walking home from church choir practice near Jouston, Miss. The defendant,who is 6-1 and weighs 255 pounds, acknowledged beating the woman to death, explaining that he had intended to rape her, then changed his mind.

Berry had already eaten what was meant to be his last meal (pork chops) when hE was granted a stay last fall, because of the pending Kentucky case.

In Alabama, Arthur, 65, has been on death row for more than two decades. In 1982, when he was on a work-release program while serving a sentence for a previous murder, he killed the husband of a girlfrieNd. For that crime he was tried three times.

His first conviction was overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court, which found that the trial judge had improperly admitted evidence of the earlier murder. A later conviction was also overturned because Arthur's statement to the police was improperly admitted into evidence after he had invoked his right to remain silent. His third conviction was sustained on appeal.