December 8 - December 14, 1993
by Beth Hawkins and Kristin Solheim

- Arizona Plans To Execute Paris Carriger For Shattering Another
Man’s Skull With A Cast-Iron Skillet. Never Mind That Someone
Else Confessed To The Crime. -
Fifteen years ago, when Paris Carriger first was locked away in a 6-by-9
cell on death row at the Arizona State Prison, he, like most condemned
men, claimed to be innocent. Of course, no one listened. His lawyer had
barely paid attention during the trial, hadn’t even cross-examined the man who accused Carriger of murder. Later, police shrugged off evidence suggesting someone else was responsible for the bloody slaying of a Phoenix jewelry store owner.
Only a miracle would keep Carriger from the gas chamber. The kind of miracle that seems like a cliche’ —- such as someone stepping forward and revealing that he, not Carriger, is the real killer.

Unbelievably, 10 years after the crime the man who turned Carriger over to Phoenix police confessed to bludgeoning the jewelry store owner and framing Carriger. He thought he was dying and said he wanted to clear the slate. He didn’t want to add Carriger’s execution to the list of sins he’d carry into the afterlife.

But more unbelievably, Robert Dunbar’s confession wasn’t enough to free Carriger, or even to earn him a new trial. In 1978, the state had found
the snitch’s words believable enough to justify Carriger’s execution, but
not believable enough in 1987 to free Carriger.

Carriger was scheduled to be executed December 1. Because of a last minute stay, later this month state courts will decide whether he deserves one more hearing to consider new evidence, claims his attorneys were incompetent and changes in state law.

But given that at least a dozen appeals —- most of them fought on technical grounds —- haven’t won Carriger a new trial, his execution is likely to be rescheduled for early 1994.

“My mind tells me that the system has no intention of honoring all their
fine speeches about truth, justice and the American Way,” he writes from
death row. “I am expendable in their eyes and they have gone to a lot of
trouble to make sure I understood it.

“I did not stop hoping. Hope was stolen from me in a hundred little
adjustments to the law. Hope was stolen by two presidents who stacked the courts with justices less intent on the Constitution than they were on the politics of fear and the manipulation of rage seeking power.”

On the morning of March 13, 1978, Carriger called in sick to his job at B&B Construction in Phoenix. He had recently finished serving an 11-year sentence for aggravated battery.

Instead of going to work, the 32-year-old spent the day with one of his
former cellmates, Robert Dunbar. Carriger had been camping in his van
in Dunbar’s backyard for the previous two days.

The two went to an electronics store, some pawn shops and department stores, and finally to Smitty’s, where Dunbar bought a gun using an assumed name.
Later that afternoon, the two stopped at Shaw’s Jewelry Store on North
Central Avenue in search of a new crystal for Dunbar’s watch.

Robert Shaw, 55, told the men he didn’t have a replacement crystal but
volunteered to polish the scratches out of the old one. Shaw charged
Dunbar a dollar for the one-minute job. As Dunbar and Carriger left, one
of them turned to the other and remarked that the small store would be
an easy place to rob.

The two men went back to the Dunbar home six blocks away at the Royal Palms Trailer Court. One of them then took a nap. The other one returned to the jewelry store, picked the lock and stuffed a briefcase full of rings and watches.

Shaw must have surprised the intruder in the act. The burglar hog-tied
the jeweler with first-aid tape and pushed him into a bathroom at the back of the store.

The intruder beat him over the head with a cast iron skillet —- so brutally
the handle snapped off the pan along with a triangular chunk of iron from
the base. Next, the murderer bashed the middle-aged man with a heavy
stainless steel ring-sizer, splattering blood five feet up the walls.

His skull grossly disfigured, Shaw was still breathing. So the murderer
strangled him with his blue-and-white striped necktie.

Shaw was due home late in the afternoon. When he didn’t arrive, his wife
Lillian called the store several times but got no answer. Panicked, at
6:40 she drove to the store and found her husband’s lifeless body.

By then, Shaw’s murderer was already well into the process of covering his tracks. Although officials and lawyers have spent years trying to piece
together exactly what unfolded at Shaw’s store and Dunbar’s house on
March 13, 1978, dozens of questions remain unanswered.

Dunbar’s and Carriger’s recollections of the night of the murder are nearly identical, with the exception of one vitally important detail: who killed Shaw.

The former cellmates agree that sometime between 5:30 and 6:10 p.m. —-
after the murder —- they re-encountered each other in the backyard of the Dunbar house. They spent the rest of the evening together.

Carriger says he met up with Dunbar while sitting in his van listening to the radio after visiting the neighborhood convenience store. Dunbar, carrying a paper bag containing five new watches and Carriger’s shoes, seemed surprised to see him there. He says Dunbar handed him the shoes, claiming he borrowed them for a chore.

Next, Carriger says Dunbar offered him the watches as repayment of a loan. Suspicious, Carriger asked what Dunbar had been up to.

Carriger says Dunbar wouldn’t go into detail, but finally admitted “he used the shoes in some activity that the law would not approve of.” He suggested Carriger get rid of them and agreed to buy Carriger new shoes. Dunbar also volunteered to take Carriger to a massage parlor to make it up to him.

On their way to the massage parlor, Dunbar insisted on stopping at his
step-daughter’s apartment to drop off two briefcases.

Next, they drove north on Interstate 17 to a strip of sex shops then located there. When Carriger returned from having sex with one of the women, he found Dunbar trying to sell a diamond to another woman at the establishment. He was trying to make some quick cash by pawning his wife’s engagement ring, he said.

Later, after Carriger picked out new boots at a nearby mall, Metro Center,
Dunbar browsed through several jewelry stores. By 11 p.m., the two were home having coffee with Dunbar’s wife, Joyce, while she got ready to start work on the night shift across town at Airesearch.

About 20 minutes after she left, Carriger says Dunbar asked him to watch the kids for a while and left. When he went to bed at 2:30 a.m., Carriger says Dunbar was still not home. At 4:30 a.m., Joyce called and asked Carriger, asleep on the living-room couch, to wake up Dunbar and his stepson for their paper route. All three of them then delivered newspapers.

Next, Carriger called work complaining of the stomach flu again, but did go out for a haircut. Later that morning, Dunbar called home and asked
Carriger to meet him at Guggy’s Restaurant at Metro Center.

Not more than 200 yards from the Dunbar house, Carriger was surrounded by cops toting automatic weapons and riot gear. He was arrested for the brutal murder of Robert Gibson Shaw.

The cops’ first lead in the killing came when a man identifying himself only as “Bob” called from a phone booth. Bob promised to give the police a detailed account of the Shaw murder, exact locations of evidence and the killer’s whereabouts in exchange for immunity from prosecution for another robber he had committed two days earlier.

Phoenix officers quickly agreed to Dunbar’s terms. When they met him at
Guggy’s, Dunbar told the cops Carriger had come to him at about 6:00 the night before, confessed to the murder and begged Dunbar to help get rid of the jewels and other evidence of the crime. As extra proof, Dunbar pulled a handful of jewelry out of his pants pockets and turned it over.

Dunbar also confessed to having illegally bought a gun the previous day,
claiming he bought it for Carriger.

Investigators would later discover that police were well acquainted with
Dunbar. In addition to having hauled him in as a suspect in more than 92
burglaries, Dunbar had twice threatened to kill his father and several times was committed to mental institutions.

Many years after the murder, Dunbar also would confess he worked as a paid police and FBI informant.

After Carriger was arrested, Dunbar led police to evidence tying Carriger to the crime. Dunbar took them to an irrigation canal, several roadside bushes and a cattle guard. There they recovered clothes Dunbar said Carriger wore during the killing. With the exception of a pair of gloves, the clothes were Carriger’s.

Among the things police found were credit and business cards pulled from Shaw’s wallet. Officials never questioned how Dunbar was able to retrace a trip he and Carriger supposedly took the night before, while it was dark, and find bits of paper still lying alongside the road where he said they were flung from a moving car.

He also led police to his stepdaughter’s house where he produced two locked cases, one containing loot from the store and the other Dunbar’s .22 pistol. Police didn’t spend much more time building their case against Carriger. They had no other suspects.

The state’s case rested on Dunbar’s testimony and on a single fingerprint
found at the crime scene. Because no prints were found in the jewelry
store or on the murder weapons, police believe Shaw’s killer wore gloves.

The single print found at the scene, part of Carriger’s thumb, was cut
from the first aid tape used to bind Shaw’s wrists. At the trial, Arizona
Department of Public Safety fingerprint expert Steven Anderson testified
that he had no idea where on the tape he found the print. It was on the
end of a piece of tape, he said, but by the time it was cut from Shaw’s
inert hands the bloody wad had several ends.

Carriger recognized the incriminating tape as part of a roll that was missing from his van. If the thumbprint was on the very end of a length of tape, he argued, wouldn’t it make sense that his print ended up there when he stuck the tape back on the roll after some previous use?

The thumbprint issue was never settled. In the end, what convicted Carriger was Robert Dunbar’s tale of Carriger’s supposedly panicked confession that convinced the jury. Dunbar described helping Carriger get rid of evidence, saying the episode frightened him so badly he turned his friend in to the police.

“I don’t believe in murder,” he said on the stand. “I mean he did totally
something outside of anything that I can comprehend or understand. I don’t understand why someone would beat someone to death when they have got them tied up and got everything that they already have.”

When the state presented its case against Carriger, his court-appointed
defender declined to cross-examine Dunbar. Carriger was outraged. It would have been so easy to prove Dunbar was a practiced liar with a history of trying to shift the blame for his own crimes onto others. His attorney, Thurman Gay, told him not to worry. He would try to impeach Dunbar when the defense presented its case.

When Gay tried to recall Dunbar to the stand, both the judge and the
prosecutor acted as if Gay were crazy. Even a first-year law student should known the defense had waived its right to interrogate Dunbar.

Whether Gay was capable of discrediting Dunbar is questionable. His office spent almost no time investigating the state’s star witness, so Gay never brought up Dunbar’s history of psychological problems, never brought up his extensive rap sheet.

If Gay had checked, he would have found at least a dozen criminal convictions and police interrogations about 92 other burglaries. Also, he would have learned that several times Dunbar had threatened to kill relatives, threats that landed him in public psychiatric facilities. Despite all of which, he apparently was a longtime paid police and FBI informant.

Worse, no one ever mentioned Dunbar’s near bankrupt status at the time of the killing, or the fact that just two days before the jewelry story burglary Dunbar robbed a Phoenix tile store but came away empty-handed.

The July, 1978 trial lasted two weeks. The jury took just 45 minutes to find Carriger guilty of first degree murder and robbery. Three months later, noting Carriger had a criminal record and given the heinous nature of the murder, the judge sentenced him to death.

Carriger claims Gay spent just 45 minutes with him before the trial began. Bills the contract defender submitted to the Maricopa County Superior Courts indicate he spent three hours with his client and 11 hours with the case file before trial. In either case, nowhere near enough time to build an argument to exonerate Carriger. And a pitifully small amount of time to try to protect a potentially innocent man from the gas chamber.

Three months after Carriger was found guilty, Dunbar’s neighbor unearthed a cache of bloody clothes buried on the property line. Jennie Thompson turned the clothes over to Phoenix police who checked them over, claimed to have found nothing connecting them with the crime, and gave them back to Thompson. She threw them away.

Even though the discovery bolstered his client’s claims of innocence, Gay too ignored the discovery.

For the next nine years, Carriger’s case wended its way through a series of appeals. In 1982, the Arizona Supreme Court found that Gay’s conduct was so substandard at Carriger’s sentencing that a trial court would have to hold a new hearing about whether to execute him. In October of that year, he was resentenced to death.

In later hearings, Gay testified that when he prepared for the 1978 trial
he didn’t consider that Carriger could get the death penalty. Also in 1982,
Gay told an appeals court that he did little research into Dunbar’s background.

After his defense failed, Carriger took matters into his own hands. He
became a competent jailhouse attorney and indulged his secret desire to be a writer. He wrote fiction, legal articles and dark, bitter poems. He wrote to people in Amnesty International and to academics.

Like other condemned men, from time to time he’d fantasize about a pardon. With an I.Q. of 160 Carriger says if he were freed tomorrow, he’d study Latin and cultural anthropology.

In prison, he withdrew into a daily routine of work. Rising at dawn after
three hours sleep, Carriger says he plans his day while pacing up and down his cell for exercise. By breakfast time, he starts writing. Later he naps, walks, and writes again.

In 1979, he began working on a survey of death row inmates. He hoped to discover what drives an individual turn to violence. As the years wore on, he began writing letters on behalf of other convicts.

He won’t accept visits from family, saying he thinks it’s too stressful for
them to see him on death row. Instead, he keeps in touch by writing and
making cassette tapes.

“The only visitors I allow are attorneys and the defense team or the press,” he says. “I won’t indulge emotion when I need a clear head to fight, and to allow loved ones to see me like this is an invitation to emotion that I can’t afford if I want to survive.”

His mother writes to him once a week. Carriger has said that while he was growing up the two of them got along well. Of his natural father Carriger knows little. He considers his mother’s husband his father and has fond memories of fishing trips with him.

Like Dunbar, Carriger has a record of juvenile delinquency, twice ending up in state facilities. As a youth, he says his response to major problems
was to withdraw.

“My highest ambition as a youth was to ride horses and train dogs and get to camp out all the time,” he says. “As a vision of life it has merit even if it is nonsense.”

It wasn’t until he was asked to select the individuals he wanted to witness his execution that the enormity of his sentence came home to Carriger. Like other death row inmates he sometimes harbored outlandish hope someone would come forward and confess to his crime.

The appearance of the real killer would wrap up the loose ends leftover from the trial: Why was a frying pan at the murder scene? Why didn’t the burglar, assuming it was either Carriger or Dunbar, kill Shaw with the gun Dunbar bought? Where did Dunbar get the diamonds he tried to sell at the massage parlor?

Carriger felt sure Dunbar could answer all these questions. Nonetheless, when the snitch stepped forward in 1987 and confessed to beating Shaw to death, Carriger had a hunch the worst was yet to come.

“When Dunbar testified, I kept waiting for the trap,” says Carriger. “I
hoped it was not there. I listened to him confess and I did not look at him
for fear that he would see something in my eyes that would shut him up before he said it all or maybe he would see what I felt and just top and tell the court that somehow I forced him to confess or God only knows what combination of stories.

“He was capable of anything and by that time I knew it.”

Dunbar’s ex-wife, Joyce, was the first to take back the story she told at
Carriger’s 1978 trial. At the time of the killing she said Dunbar was at
home with her and her four children taking a nap. In August 1987, she
withdrew that alibi.

Joyce Stevens (the couple divorced in 1983) now says that on the day of the killing her husband came home, hid some bloody clothing in a closet and told her she had to lie and say he was taking a nap or he would kill her and her children.

Stevens told the court she and her kids always followed Dunbar’s orders
because of his violent temper. He regularly molested one of his
stepdaughters and beat his stepson, she said.

A few weeks after hearing Stevens’ story, Dunbar drafted a confession of his own. His eight-page hand-written account said he and Stevens together committed the burglary. Carriger was in no way involved, he swore.

When Shaw surprised the couple in the act, Stevens began bludgeoning the jeweler with a frying pan, he wrote. Eventually he took the skillet from
his wife and finished the job himself.

“I took the skillet and I hit Mr. Shaw some more and blood went everywhere or so it seemed to me,” Dunbar wrote. “Mr. Shaw was still breathing so I took his tie and started to choke him with it. I think he finally stopped breathing.”

Dunbar, who claimed to be dying, said he confessed even though he could have been prosecuted for Shaw’s killing because he “started worrying about making my peace with God.”

In October 1987, Dunbar told his story during a hearing in which Carriger
petitioned the court for post-conviction relief. Stevens was granted
immunity for her new testimony, as were here children.

Not only did his ex-wife and her children give testimony that Dunbar was the murderer, the one-time informant apparently bragged about the killing to others. Several came forth to support his confession.

Dunbar claimed he had confessed to a minister who visited him in prison
and to several friends. He claimed to have told his parents and members of the North Phoenix Baptist Church that he committed the murder.

Also, after watching a Home Box Office television special about Carriger
and other death row inmates, one of Dunbar’s friends contacted Carriger’s attorneys and claimed Dunbar had bragged to him about the murder.

Carriger’s attorneys note that there is plenty of material evidence supporting the theory that Dunbar was the real killer. His fingerprints were found on the stolen jewelry and the briefcase in which it was carried. Carriger’s prints were found only on the outside of the briefcase.

Dunbar had originally explained the fingerprint as the result of his having
helped Carriger remove price tags from the stolen jewelry. Carriger’s
attorneys note that Dunbar’s prints on the evidence should link Dunbar to the crime at least as strongly as the single thumb print implicates Carriger.

In addition to the jewelry Dunbar was trying to sell on the night of the
killing, Joyce Stevens said she and her kids found jewelry around the house in the days following the burglary. Stevens also claimed that the broken skillet found at the murder scene was an exact match to one missing from a nesting set of cast iron frying pans she owned.

Although Dunbar’s confession shed little light on the question of why the
frying pan was at the scene, Stevens said Dunbar took it with him to smash open jewelry display cases.

Shaw’s widow Lillian also testified that the frying pan was hers, and that
she kept it in the back of the store for heating up snacks on a hot plate.
Dunbar said he and Stevens didn’t take a skillet to the store, but that
he remembers seeing a hot plate in the back room.

Finally, Dunbar was able to sketch the insides of the jewelry store in detail. He had not seen police sketches or any other documents connected with Carriger’s case before making his drawing, he testified.

At the time, questions about his credibility posed by prosecutors angered

“If they want to believe me, fine,” Dunbar told _The Arizona Republic_.
“I’ve told the truth. I’ve made my peace with God, and they can do as they please in the courtroom.

“In my personal opinion, the courts, the judges and the prosecutors do not care one way or the other if they have the guilty party, just so they have somebody to maintain their statistics of solved crimes.

“Right now, they’ve got Paris Carriger on death row. They firmly believe
he’s guilty because if they admit that he is not guilty, then they are
admitting they made a mistake.”

Less than three weeks after his dramatic courtroom reversal, Dunbar retracted his confession. He lied, he wrote in a letter to Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Ryan, because he was angry with his ex-wife and with public officials.

“I lied to screw everything up because I hate the state of Arizona so badly and I wanted to get even with everyone,” Dunbar wrote. He said he was able to draw the jewelry store layout because Carriger’s attorney, Bob Hirsh, had shown him police diagrams of the crime scene. He also accused his own attorney, Jess Lorona, of knowing he was lying. Lorona, Dunbar claimed, was planning to find someone to buy the movie and book rights to the story of the crime.

Lastly, Dunbar pled with the judge not to make him testify about his history of working as a paid informant to the Phoenix Police Department and the FBI.

“I helped to bust and arrest at least six to 10 drug dealers in Phoenix,
and my life won’t be worth anything at all if this gets out because no one
knows I’m the one who turned them in,” he wrote. “I was kept very secret.”

The court quickly denied Carriger’s petition for relief. Dunbar, the judge
argued, was an habitual liar whose word could not be trusted. Although both Hirsh and his legal assistant swore they hadn’t shown documents related to the case to Dunbar, the judge ruled that Dunbar’s drawing of the jewelry store interior was too detailed to have been drawn from memory.

The court also rejected Joyce Stevens’ testimony, saying that even if her
story was “believed in its entirety” it was more likely that Dunbar and
Carriger together carried out the robbery and murder.

Carriger and his attorneys agree that Dunbar was a seasoned liar. But, they reason, if Dunbar’s second account of the murder wasn’t credible enough to earn a new trial, Dunbar’s first story can’t be reliable enough to justify Carriger’s execution.

After learning Dunbar had confessed, the state Attorney General’s office
returned to the one piece of evidence firmly suggesting Carriger was involved in the crime. The snipped of first aid tape cut from Shaw’s corpse and bearing Carriger’s thumbprint acquired new significance.

Prosecutors asked a DPS crime lab worker, William Morris, to examine the wad of tape cut from Shaw’s wrists after the murder. They wanted to know where Carriger’s print was located.

In order to do that, Morris unrolled the tape. After the sliced bits of
tape were unraveled, he “matched” them back together, supposedly
reconstructing one long strip of first aid tape. After piecing together
nearly 9 feet of tape, Morris concluded Carriger’s print was located 21
inches from the end of the roll.

In subsequent descriptions of the crime, the Attorney General’s Office
has claimed the fingerprint was located 6-feet-11 and one-half inches from the end of the roll of tape.

Carriger’s attorneys charge the state did not notify them that it planned to destroy and reconstruct this key piece of evidence. They also complain that no record exists of Morris’ examination of the 10-year-old tape. The result is that for all practical purposes no one will ever know whether Carriger made the thumbprint at home the last time he used the tape or at the jewelry store before bludgeoning Shaw.

“Who ever did it apparently wore gloves,” says Lois Yankowski, one of
Carriger’s attorneys. “Why would you take off the gloves to leave one print? It doesn’t make sense.” But the fingerprint is the hardest evidence the prosecution has tying Carriger to the crime.

“Nowadays the state doesn’t even try to argue that Dunbar told the truth
in my trial,” Carriger complains. “Now they point to my thumbprint on
the tape binding the wrists of Mr. Shaw and try to pretend that a new
laboratory test means that Dunbar’s testimony is not important.

“Dunbar was an expert at framing people. He spent his prison time thinking
of ways to do it.”

Four times Carriger has been told what day he will die in the gas chamber in Florence. Each time he won a last-minute stay so the state can consider an appeal or petition for relief.

The tension, he complains, is probably worse than dying itself.

“Compared to most of the last 15 years, fighting through the ups and downs of hope and despair, dying seems almost easy,” he says. “If i were not so stubborn and angry about the injustice of it all I might have considered letting the state have my life since they have destroyed the time (I) needed to do/be anything else. But I am that stubborn. I want a record that will endure just in case proof comes later.”

Most recently, Carriger won a stay from his December 1, 1993 execution date so that a team of attorneys volunteering their services could file a last minute petition to keep him out of the gas chamber. In addition to Flagstaff, lawyer Don Bayles, who has been working on the case since 1981, Carriger is represented by Tucson attorneys Bob Hirsh and Lois Yankowski and Denise Young of the Arizona Capital Representation Project in Tempe.

To date, much of the work done on Carriger’s behalf has centered on arguments that his trial attorney was incompetent. In order to win relief for poor representation, a defendant must be able to prove two things: first, that his attorney failed to meet minimum standards; and second, that having an effective attorney would have made a difference.

In this case, that means proving an investigation of Dunbar’s background
would have discredited him badly enough to ruin the state’s case against

And what about Dunbar’s confession? At this point, say Carriger’s attorneys, it should be sufficient to note that it dramatically contradicts what he said on the witness stand in 1978.

Whether Dunbar killed Shaw, it should now be obvious that Dunbar is an
accomplished liar, they add. Unfortunately, it’s an academic argument:
Dunbar died last December.

One of the main problems plaguing Carriger’s defense is that federal courts are increasingly strict about what grounds can be used to appeal a case. This means it’s more likely the state can be forced to spare Carriger for technical reasons than because there is evidence suggesting he was nowhere near Shaw’s jewelry store the night of the murder.

The only court official who has consistently argued that Carriger deserves a retrial both because his attorney was lax and because of the weakness of the evidence against him is Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Stanley Feldman. In both 1984 and 1988, Feldman, not then head of the court, filed minority opinions favoring Carriger.

“The case was tried, therefore, on a simple basic issue: Did Dunbar tell
the truth when he blamed the robber and murder on Carriger, or was Carriger’s contention that the robber and murder were committed by Dunbar to be believed?” he wrote. “All other issues were peripheral. To corroborate his story and his credibility, and to rebut Carriger’s charges against him, Dunbar testified that he could not have committed the robbery and murder because by both history and nature he was neither a robber nor a killer; his long criminal history showed only participation in nonviolent crimes.

“While Dunbar was impeached in many ways, none of them addressed these fundamental contentions. Impeachment on these issues was available,” Feldman continued. “Carriger, who had known Dunbar in prison, specifically asked trial counsel to obtain Dunbar’s prison records and inspect them for impeachment information…

“While Dunbar claimed innocence because he could neither kill nor comprehend the act of killing, there was evidence in the file that he had twice attempted to carve his father and mother with a butcher knife. While Dunbar claimed he would not lie and implicate a `buddy,’ there was evidence in the file that over a period of years he had several times committed a crime and then called police to turn in his `buddy.’

“While Dunbar was portrayed by the state as a peaceful person and a credible witness, there was evidence in the file that he was in fact a violent, habitual criminal, ready to lie for any reason or simply as a matter of habit. While the state portrayed Dunbar as a accurate observer and reporter of events, the file indicated that he had been committed twice to the state hospital for the insane.”

By mid-December, Carriger’s attorneys will have filed a petition asking for a hearing so that they can try to persuade a judge to reconsider granting Carriger a new trial.

If the courts won’t schedule a new hearing, Carriger’s attorneys can appeal their decision. If no court will hear the issue, a new write of execution will be handed down. Once the write is issued, Carriger has 60-90 days to seek a new stay or plead for clemency from the Governor.

Given that he would be asking an embattled Republican governor in a state with numerous pro-death penalty voters, its unlikely Carriger’s sentence would be reduced to life in prison.

Carriger says the politics of capital punishment anger him the most. He has come to see criminal executions not as crime control nor state-sanctioned revenge. Rather, he calls the death penalty “murder both simple and absolute.”

“Execution is nothing more than the exercise of power,” he says. “I have
never heard of a man so dangerous that killing him was the only way to
control him. More to the point, if you the public own the right to kill
this man, who owns your life?”

Carriger’s feelings have driven him to try to leave as detailed a record
of his case as possible.

“Living or dead, I want the state to be forced to face collectively what
they have done by investing the power of the death penalty in the hands
of people who view it as a tool for elections to higher office and who admit that it is likely that a few innocent people will die to gain the greater good for the society of making sure that the guilty are punished to their satisfaction.

“I seem to be the innocent one they were talking about and I don’t think
much of their plans.”