[Hpn] Christian -- or just a decent human being?

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 30 Jan 2001 18:20:50 -0700


Tuesday January 30 4:31 PM ET

Tennessee Execution Put on Hold by High Court
By Pat Harris

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to
let the state of Tennessee proceed with the execution of a convicted cop
killer whose lawyers claim was victimized by an unfair trial.

The decision came hours before Philip Workman was to have died by lethal
injection in what would have been only the second execution in Tennessee in
more than 40 years.

He had been housed in a holding area near the death chamber since Friday and
had already ordered his last meal -- a large vegetarian pizza he had asked
be delivered to a homeless person.

``He was tremendously grateful and so are we,'' said Jefferson Dorsey, one
of his lawyers. ``He was overjoyed, just bubbling over. He really has a lot
of faith. He really is a Christian.

``He has been more concerned with other people, his loved ones, and with us,
his lawyers, than he has been with himself,'' said Dorsey who broke the news
to the 47-year-old convict. He said Workman was then allowed to return to
his regular cell.

The high court denied a request from the state to dissolve a stay of
execution issued last Friday by the Cincinnati-based U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Sixth Circuit. That appeals court deadlocked 7-7 last September on
Workman's request for a full hearing on what his lawyers claim is new
evidence in the case.

Dorsey said he understood the U.S. Supreme Court would act on Feb. 16 on two
appeals Workman has before that panel, claiming that a witness at his trial
lied and that evidence would show the man who died could have been killed by
a bullet from one of his fellow officer's guns.

Workman was convicted in Memphis in 1981 of fatally shooting police Lt. Ron
Oliver during a restaurant holdup.

The state parole board turned down a request for clemency last week after a
hearing during which one of the jurors at Workman's trial testified he no
longer thought he was guilty.

In addition one of the lawyers defending Workman, John Pierotti, was the
chief prosecutor in Memphis at the time Workman was tried. He has said he
does not believe Workman got a fair trial.

At issue is testimony by a witness at the trial who later admitted lying,
and conflicting ballistics testimony as to whether Oliver was killed by
Workman or accidentally by fellow officers called to the scene of the

The state has countered that whether or not Workman fired the fatal shot, he
was guilty of committing a robbery resulting in a police officer's death,
and deserved the death penalty as a result.

Workman's execution had been set for 1 a.m. CST on Wednesday.
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
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