Death-row inmate in Pa. seeks appeal

Posted: October 26, 2012

HARRISBURG - Lawyers for a death-row inmate who could be the first person executed in Pennsylvania since 1999 asked a federal judge this week to reopen the case and stop the plans to put him to death in two weeks.

Hubert Lester Michael Jr. pleaded guilty to the July 1993 murder of Trista Elizabeth Eng, 16, after kidnapping her in northern York County, about a half-hour south of Harrisburg.

Michael, 56, has repeatedly changed his mind about pursuing appeals. His lawyers said he suffers from mental-health problems that were aggravated by life inside Graterford Prison, and have gotten better since he was transferred to the state prison in Greene County.

"It is clear that Mr. Michael's prior waiver was driven by the interaction of his mental health difficulties with the conditions of his confinement," his lawyers wrote. "Now that the conditions that so tortured him have eased, he wants to live and litigate."

They said he felt "profound remorse" for Eng's murder. Messages seeking comment from the defense lawyers, Ronald Travis and Timothy Kane, were not immediately returned Thursday.

State prison officials plan to put him to death by lethal injection Nov. 8.

Only three people have been put to death in Pennsylvania over the last 50 years, and all three had voluntarily given up on their appeals.

|
|
|
|
|