"Inmates sentenced to death before New Mexico's death-penalty repeal seek to avoid execution," is the AP report by Barry Massey, via the Greenfield Daily Reporter. It's also available from the Albuquerque Journal.
New Mexico's remaining death row inmates are asking the state's highest court to spare them from potential execution because lawmakers repealed capital punishment after they were sentenced to die by lethal injection.
Timothy Allen and Robert Fry contend their death sentences violate state and federal constitutional protections because New Mexico abolished capital punishment in 2009 for future murders but left it in place for them. Both men were convicted and sentenced to death for murders committed years before the repeal.
The state Supreme Court will hear arguments from lawyers Oct. 1, but a decision by the five justices likely wouldn't be made until months later.
No execution has been scheduled for either Fry or Allen, and both have pending habeas corpus post-conviction appeals in state district court. The Supreme Court has previously upheld their convictions and sentences.
A group of University of New Mexico law professors and the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association is supporting the latest legal challenge brought by attorneys for Fry and Allen.
"These capital sentences are political vestiges of an abolished state system of death. New Mexico has no compelling interest distinguishing Mr. Allen and Mr. Fry from future defendants who will escape execution because of repeal," the defense attorneys' group said in written arguments submitted to the court.