Court hears Alabama execution challenge

ATLANTA (AP) - A lawyer for Alabama death row inmate Phillip
Hallford told a federal appeals court Tuesday that his challenge to
the state's method of capital punishment should be allowed to
proceed, not dismissed on technical grounds.

But the state's lawyer argued that Hallford had plenty of time
to challenge Alabama's lethal injection after it was adopted as a
death penalty in 2002.

Assistant Attorney General Clay Crenshaw says a federal judge in
Mobile was correct to dismiss Hallford's complaint in September
2007, because its filing in June of that year came too late.

The 62-year-old Hallford was convicted in Dale County, for the
1986 shooting death of his 15-year-old daughter's boyfriend,
16-year-old Charles Eddie Shannon, whose body was dumped from a
secluded bridge.

He was scheduled to be executed March 19 at Holman Prison, but
the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay last month.

Andrew E. Kantra of Philadelphia, representing Hallford, told a
three-judge 11th Circuit panel in Atlanta that without reviewing
the "protocol" for administering lethal injection in Alabama
there is no way to determine whether it complies with
constitutional protections against cruel or unusual punishment.

Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson, a member of the panel, asked
why prison officials could not just provide a copy of the protocol
to an inmate such as Hallford.

Crenshaw says officials believe there are security concerns. He
says it's a 16-page document that includes movements of
correctional officers in an understaffed prison.

If the 11th Circuit panel rules against Hallford, Kantra says he
likely would ask the full 12-member court to hear the case.

Meanwhile, the stay of execution continues.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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