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Wood appeals to Supreme Court

Published 9:15pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Troy man convicted of a 1993 murder is scheduled to be executed today, but according to an Associated Press report, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution.

Holly Wood, 50, of Troy, petitioned the Court for a stay of execution, contending he is mentally disabled and had insufficient counsel when a jury recommended he receive the death penalty for the murder of his former 34-year-old girlfriend Ruby Gosha in 1993.

According to the report, Wood’s petition states, “it is undisputed” that Wood has an IQ below 70, which would place him in the range necessary to be classified medically as mentally retarded.

The petition also says that attorneys should have told jurors about Wood’s mental condition during the sentencing phase of the trial.

Wood has also filed a clemency petition to Alabama Governor Bob Riley.

According to the AP, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office field a brief late Wednesday asking the Court to allow Wood’s execution to proceed, arguing all his claims have been heard previously be federal and state courts.

The attorney general said Wood helped several jobs and was a fully functioning member of society prior to his murder of Gosha.

Wood, 33 at the time, was convicted of breaking into Gosha’s home and shooting her in the head with a shotgun as she was lying in bed on Sept. 1, 1993.

Pike County District Attorney Gary McAliley, who was a judge at the time, said in a previous article in The Messenger the case started in the Pike County District Court, leading to a Grand Jury indictment and a trial in the Pike County Circuit Court.

“He exhausted all his state remedies — the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Alabama Supreme Court, then Federal Court, arguing his constitutional rights had been violated,” McAliley said.

It was in federal court, a judge tossed out the death sentence on the basis Wood’s lawyer failed to tell jurors Wood had an IQ of less than 70 and had been classified as mentally retarded, reported the Associated Press.

Then in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, the death penalty was reinstated, arguing Wood “failed to show that the lawyer was unconstitutionally ineffective.”

At the time of the incident, Wood was 33. He was arrested at his father’s home in Luverne, where a 12-gauge shotgun was found under a pile of leaves.

“He was a most dangerous person, and we’re very fortunate he doesn’t hurt more people,” McAliley said in a former article.

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