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Tarver execution rescheduled

Staff Report

March 18, 2000 10 PM

A Brundidge man is sceduled to be executed on April 14 after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his claim the electric chair is cruel and unusual punishment.

Robert Lee Tarver Jr., 52, was convicted of capital murder by a Russell County jury in the 1984 shooting death of Hugh Kite in Cottonton.

Kite, a grocery store owner, was apparently leaving work when he was murdered. Prosecutors claimed robbery was the motive in the case.

That jury voted 7-5 to give Tarver life without parole for the crime, but Tarver was sentenced to death by Circuit Judge Wayne Johnson.

Three hours before his Feb. 4 execution, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Tarver a stay based on his challenge the electric chair violates his Eighth Amendment right.

In that claim, Tarver maintained the "antiquated" electric chair had a risk of "excessive burning, disfigurement and…pain and suffering."

Tarver’s family members said the appeal was based more on the method to be used than the outcome of the trial.

But on Feb. 4, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the challenge 5-4, leaving the Attorney General’s Office to file a motion with the Alabama Supreme Court for a new execution date, which was set Wednesday.

Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor and Governor Don Siegelman became involved after the stay was granted, encouraging the Legislature to enact swift legislation that gave those under the death penalty the option of choosing lethal injection instead of throwing out the death penalty altogether.