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High court rejects pleas to halt Chapman execution

LOUISVILLE — The Kentucky Supreme Court has rejected two requests to halt the scheduled execution of Marco Allen Chapman, saying the Death Row inmate is competent to make his own decisions about whether to die.

The high court on Wednesday ruled that Chapman, who has asked to be executed, is competent to make his own decisions. Because of that finding, Chief Justice John Minton said, the court must dismiss the remaining appeals that were filed by the Department of Public Advocacy against Chapman's will.

Justice Mary Noble issued a one-page concurring opinion saying the court properly applied the law, but that she would be open to legislative action on the death penalty.

"If state executions are not the will of the people, then they must demand a different approach," Noble wrote. "I would welcome such legislation."

Barring a last-minute change of heart by Chapman, the ruling could clear the way for him to die Friday by lethal injection at the Kentucky State Penitentiary.

Chapman, 36, pleaded guilty in 2004 to killing a 7-year-old girl and her 6-year-old brother, as well as attacking their 10-year-old sister and mother in the Northern Kentucky town of Warsaw. He asked to be sentenced to death.

The public advocates asked the high court to stop the execution, questioning Chapman's competency in one motion and citing a pending challenge to Kentucky's execution protocol in another.

Two other Death Row inmates — Ralph Baze, convicted of killing the Powell County sheriff and a deputy, and Thomas Clyde Bowling, convicted of killing a couple in Lexington — sued the state, saying it improperly adopted the current execution protocol. That challenge is pending before the Kentucky Supreme Court. Chapman did not take part in that suit.

The high court's ruling comes about a week after a circuit judge in Frankfort found Chapman competent to fire his attorneys and waive his appeals.

Chapman wrote directly to the justices with a plea to allow his execution.

"So I ask this court one last time to dismiss all motions and allow my execution go forward as planned without any further delays or proceedings," he wrote.

Kentucky has executed two people since states resumed the practice in 1977 after a four-year, court-imposed hiatus. Harold McQueen was electrocuted in 1997 for the shooting death of Rebecca O'Hearn in Richmond in 1980.

The last person executed in Kentucky was Eddie Lee Harper, who died by lethal injection in 1999. Harper was sentenced to death for killing his adoptive parents in 1982. He waived all appeals and asked to be executed, after 16 years on Death Row.