A condemned inmate escaped lethal injection Thursday for the murder of a teenage girl after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the execution should be halted.
Just hours after a federal appeals court put a stop to the preparations, the high court agreed, preventing Hubert Lester Michael Jr. from becoming the first person put to death in the state since 1999.
Michael, who pleaded guilty to fatally shooting Trista Elizabeth Eng in 1993, had been taken earlier in the day to Rockview State Prison in Bellefonte, home of the execution chamber.
Pennsylvania has put to death only three inmates in the past 50 years, and all of them — unlike Michael — had given up on their appeals.
Prison officials described the 56-year-old Michael as “very quiet, polite and composed” in what was to have been his final hours. He arrived there shortly after 6 a.m., after being transported from Greene State Prison in the state’s southwestern corner.
After the Supreme Court decision, one of Michael’s lawyers, Helen Marino, said he remained “incredibly remorseful” that he had killed Eng.
Marino said the courts saw there were “compelling claims relating to Mr. Michael’s debilitating mental conditions that have never been reviewed by any court.”
Sue McNaughton, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Department said, “If and when the stay is lifted by the court, the execution will be scheduled directly.”