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Billy Joe Magwood - Alabama
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Thread: Billy Joe Magwood - Alabama

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    Billy Joe Magwood - Alabama




    Summary of Offense:

    Was convicted of the 1979 murder of Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham and sentenced to death in 1981.

  2. #2
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    January 23, 2009

    Ala. wins round in death penalty case

    ATLANTA (AP) - The state of Alabama has won a round in its pursuit to carry out the death sentence of a man convicted of murder in the death of a sheriff 30 years ago.

    Billy Joe Magwood was convicted of gunning down Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham in the jail parking lot March 1, 1979.

    He was sentenced to death June 2, 1981.

    After an appeal, Magwood's conviction was upheld but he was granted a new sentencing hearing.

    He was resentenced to death in 1986 and set about challenging that.

    Magwood succeeded with a 1997 habeas corpus petition when a federal judge ruled in his favor on two technicalities.

    The state appealed, and a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's ruling on Friday.

    http://www.wsfa.com/global/story.asp?s=9723163

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    November 16, 2009

    U.S. Supreme Court will rule on death penalty for Billy Joe Magwood in slaying of Coffee County sheriff

    WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court will decide whether Billy Joe Magwood should be put to death for fatally shooting an Alabama sheriff 30 years ago.

    The court on Monday agreed to hear Magwood's appeal. He was convicted of gunning down Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham in the jail parking lot on March 1, 1979. He was sentenced to death June 2, 1981.

    The Supreme Court refused to hear Magwood's appeal of his conviction in 1997.

    But a federal judge overturned his death sentence that year, saying Alabama had changed its laws to make Magwood's crime a capital offense after it had already been committed. A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed that ruling, saying Magwood should have brought that issue up in his first round of appeals.

    Magwood is appealing the decision to reinstate his death sentence at the Supreme Court.

    Separately, the justices turned down an appeal from another Alabama death row inmate. Thomas Whisenhant challenged an appeals court ruling that left his death sentence for the 1976 rape and murder of a Theodore woman in place. Whisenhant argued that the judge colluded with prosecutors and denied him a fair trial.

    The cases are Magwood v. Culliver, 09-158, and Whisenhant v. Allen, 09-220.

    http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2009/11/post_203.html

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    June 24, 2010

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says an Alabama death row inmate can use a new argument to try to keep from being executed for shooting a county sheriff.

    The high court on Thursday said Billy Joe Magwood can argue that Alabama retroactively changed the law to make his crime qualify for the death penalty.

    Magwood has been sentenced to die twice for the shooting death of Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham in 1979. He says he should be able to make a new argument because his second death sentence was a new sentence.

    But the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Magwood should have complained about the change in Alabama state law in his first round of appeals. The Supreme Court overturned that ruling.

    http://www.whbf.com/Global/story.asp?S=12702525

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    June 27, 2010

    Magwood verdict decried: Decades-old case back in the spotlight

    "Obviously disappointed" is how Alabama Attorney General Troy King described his reaction to a U.S. Supreme Court decision Thursday in a Coffee County murder case that has spanned 3 decades.

    King said Friday by allowing Billy Joe Magwood another day in court, the high court has subjected the family of slain Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham "to even more years of suffering through the already decades-long appeals process."

    The high court ruled that Magwood can argue the state retroactively changed the law to make his crime qualify for the death penalty. Magwood has been sentenced twice to the death penalty following his murder conviction in Grantham’s 1979 shooting and death outside the Coffee County Jail in Elba.

    Magwood's attorneys contend he should have another hearing because the 2nd death sentence was essentially a new sentence. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Magwood should have complained about the change in Alabama state law in his 1st round of appeals. The Supreme Court overturned the lower federal court’s ruling Thursday.

    King was a 10-year-old Elba Elementary School student when Magwood shot and killed Grantham March 1, 1979.

    "It was the defining moment in my decision to go into into law enforcement," King said. "An elementary school boy went on to high school, college, law school and has become the attorney general of this state and the case is still delayed is an affront to justice."

    The facts of Magwood's offense are not in dispute, according to a legal opinion written Jan. 23, 2009, by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. What is in dispute, according to court documents, is Magwood's assertion that the district court "erred in denying him discovery and an evidentiary hearing on his claim he was denied effective assistance of counsel." Magwood asserts counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate and present any evidence in his defense.

    During Magwood's trial, Coffee County Deputy Sheriff Thomas Weeks testified he observed Magwood, whom he recognized as a former jail inmate, sitting in a car parked in Grantham's parking space at about 6:45 a.m on March 1, 1979. He said he observed Grantham drive up and park his vehicle shortly before 7 a.m., walk to some garbage cans and deposit a trash bag and then walk toward the jail door.

    Weeks said Magwood exited from his automobile "with something in his hand" and met Grantham at the rear of the car. At that point, Weeks said, he heard 3 gunshots and saw Grantham fall. He saw Magwood get back into his car with a pistol in his hand.

    No one else was in the vicinity, Grantham said, and when Magwood was arrested. He had a written list of other Elba citizens he planned to shoot.

    Magwood was convicted of murder June 2, 1981, and the conviction and death sentence were upheld by state courts and the U.S. Supreme Court through direct appeals and again by state courts regarding a subsequent petition. In 1985, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama upheld the conviction, but required a new sentencing hearing for consideration of additional mitigating circumstances.

    Magwood was again sentenced to death, and the sentence was upheld by state appeals courts. Another appeal that began in 1997 before the U.S. District Court resulted in Magwood’s sentence being vacated in 2007. Magwood asserted multiple issues on cross-appeal, according to court documents.

    King said Thursday's high court decision is just the opposite of what Congress intended when structuring the appeals process, "But, to be clear, this case has simply been remanded to the federal circuit court for further proceedings."

    "I will continue to vigorously represent the state and Sheriff Grantham's family until Magwood's death sentence is executed," King said. This terrible tragedy has spanned 30 year, It's an illustration that sometimes justice delayed can be justice denied."

    (Source: The Enterprise Ledger)

  7. #7
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    Billy Joe Magwood v. Warden

    Court overturns Alabama inmate's death sentence

    A federal appeals court has overturned the death sentence given to an Alabama death row inmate for the 1979 shooting of a county sheriff in Alabama.

    The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday overturned the death sentence given to 60-year-old Billy Joe Magwood for the 1979 shooting death of Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham.

    The appeals court said Alabama's law when Grantham was killed did not make killing a law enforcement officer a death penalty offense. Magwood had argued that the law was later changed to make murder of a law enforcement officer an aggravating offense for jurors to use in determining if someone should be sentenced to death.

    Officials in the Alabama Attorney General's office had not decided Monday if they would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/...xt%7CFrontpage

  8. #8
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    Sentencing date set for sheriff's killer

    A 60-year-old man convicted of shooting a Coffee County sheriff to death more than 30 years ago will have another sentencing hearing next month.

    Court records indicate Coffee County Circuit Court Judge Shannon R. Clark recently set the date for sentencing Billy Joe Magwood in his capital murder case for April 30. Clark also scheduled a status conference on the case between lawyers for Monday, April 9.

    Magwood had been on death row for more than 30 years for the slaying of the then Coffee County Sheriff Neil Grantham.

    This time Magwood will not face the death penalty.

    Records also indicate Clark appointed Enterprise attorney Carmen Howell to represent Magwood at his sentencing hearing.

    Magwood was originally convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death for the murder of a law enforcement officer. Howell said the killing of a police officer was a capital offense at the time of the slaying and remains that way today.

    “However, at the time, it was not a statutory aggravating circumstance and there were no other aggravating circumstances to make him death eligible,” Howell said in an email.

    According to an earlier Dothan Eagle report, Magwood was a former jail inmate and was waiting in the jail parking lot in Elba when Grantham arrived on the morning of March 1, 1979. Grantham was shot in the face and neck. Grantham was one of six people on a hit list Magwood had made. The other five included a judge, an attorney, a banker, a car dealer and a newspaper editor.

    At the time of the murder the sheriff had recently been re-elected to a second term for Coffee County.

    At the time of the ruling handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals late last year, only one other inmate had been on death row longer than Magwood.

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...er-ar-3506495/

  9. #9
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    Coffee County sheriff killer gets life prison sentence

    A Coffee County judge has vacated the death sentence for the man who killed the Coffee County sheriff in 1979, sentencing him to life in prison without parole instead.

    Circuit Court Judge Shannon Clark sentenced 60-year-old Billy Joe Magwood to life in prison without the opportunity for parole for the murder of Sheriff Neil Grantham. Court records indicate Magwood will also receive credit for all the time heís already spent in prison.

    Magwood was a former jail inmate and was waiting in the jail parking lot in Elba when Grantham arrived on the morning of March 1, 1979. Grantham was shot in the face and neck. He was one of six people on a hit list Magwood had made. The other five included a judge, an attorney, a banker, a car dealer and a newspaper editor.

    At the time of the murder, the sheriff had been recently re-elected to a second term for Coffee County.

    The resentencing came as a result of a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals. At the time of the ruling handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals late last year, only one other inmate had been on death row longer than Magwood.

    http://www2.dothaneagle.com/news/201...nt-ar-4166017/
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