"Federal judge wants end to delays in lingering death penalty case, orders progress to be made," is the AP report by Brett Barrouquere, via the Louisville Courier-Journal. It's also available from the Daily Journal.
A long-running death penalty case from eastern Kentucky is getting a kick-start from a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Karen K. Caldwell has set a November meeting date for prosecutors and attorneys for 54-year-old Karu Gene White to lay out a schedule for resolving his appeals, which have been pending in federal court for more than a decade.
White arrived at the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Eddyville in 1980, when he was 21. Since then, he's fought his conviction in state and federal courts. Caldwell halted proceedings in his most recent federal appeal in 2002 while White sought funding in state court to test if he has a mental disability.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that people with mental disabilities were ineligible for execution. White raised the claim shortly after that decision, prompting the federal appeal to be delayed while White sought funding for tests in state court.
Caldwell ruled Friday that the mental disability claim could proceed in state court while the rest of White's appeal could move forward in federal court. The judge also noted that White's case isn't anywhere near being resolved, with several years of appeals left to be pursued.
White's case has been delayed multiple times by multiple issues.
"For instance, White himself was responsible for a considerable portion of the delay when he defied a court order to participate in a mental retardation evaluation in a state run facility," Caldwell wrote. "On the other hand, the Commonwealth caused significant delay when it failed to appoint a new presiding judge for 16 months."
White's case languished in limbo after the retirement of Special Judge Gary Payne of Lexington. The state appointed a new jurist in April, after The Associated Press questioned why the case did not have an assigned judge.
White has been on death row for more than three decades — twice the average 15-year stay for a condemned inmate in Kentucky.
Earlier coverage from Kentucky begins a the link.