GREGG V. GE­OR­GIA

Real Crime - - Execute Me -

GIL­MORE’S FATE WAS SEALED UPON THE JURY’S DE­CI­SION, BUT HAD HIS CON­VIC­TION AR­RIVED A MAT­TER OF WEEKS EAR­LIER, HE MIGHT STILL BE ALIVE TO­DAY

A lit­tle more than two weeks be­fore Gil­more killed his first vic­tim, the Supreme Court of the United States made a de­ci­sion in the crim­i­nal case of Gregg V. Ge­or­gia that would ul­ti­mately seal Gil­more’s fate fol­low­ing his trial for mur­der. Since 1968 a na­tional mora­to­rium on cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment had been en­forced, and in 1972 the Fur­man V. Ge­or­gia case was heard. Con­victed felon Wil­liam Henry Fur­man had, ac­cord­ing to his own state­ment, ac­ci­den­tally shot his vic­tim Wil­liam Micke dur­ing a home in­va­sion in Ge­or­gia. Af­ter a one- day trial the jury found the de­fen­dant – an “emo­tion­ally dis­turbed and men­tally im­paired” in­di­vid­ual – guilty of mur­der and sen­tenced him to death.

How­ever, un­der the Eighth Amend­ment, Fur­man’s death sen­tence was com­muted to life in prison. In sev­eral states, a death penalty statute was soon in­stataed that re­quired a sep­a­rate, ‘ bi­fur­cated’ trial to pro­ceed in or­der to de­cide the pun­ish­ment in a cap­i­tal case af­ter the es­tab­lish­ment of guilt. As well as a list of ag­gra­vat­ing and mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances, those found guilty would also be sub­ject to a re­view by the Supreme Court be­fore the death penalty could be handed down.

Four years af­ter the land­mark Fur­man de­ci­sion, on 31 March 1976 dou­ble killer

Troy Leon Gregg was be­fore the courts plead­ing for his life. He had killed two men who had of­fered the hitch­hiker a lift the pre­vi­ous Novem­ber. Un­like the many that had stood be­fore the courts fol­low­ing the Fur­man rul­ing, the Supreme Court this time de­cided that the death penalty would be re­in­stated and Gregg would be put to death. The end of the mora­to­rium came just three months be­fore Gil­more was con­victed.

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