Arizona Rejects Execution Delay

The second of two German-born brothers is scheduled to be executed in Arizona Wednesday after the state dismissed international appeals for a stay to allow the World Court to examine the case.

Gov. Jane Hull rejected requests from German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to delay the scheduled 3 p.m. MST execution of Walter LaGrand.

LaGrand, 37, was sentenced to die for fatally stabbing bank manager Kenneth Hartsock and injuring a teller during a botched robbery in 1982. His brother, Karl LaGrand, 35, was executed last week for the same crime.

Germany had asked the World Court in The Hague, Netherlands, to intervene on LaGrand's behalf. The court scheduled a special hearing prior to the execution and was expected to officially urge the U.S. government to do all it could to halt the execution.

However, the World Court has no enforcement powers.

The LaGrands requested they be executed in the gas chamber in an effort to have the method ruled cruel and unusual, and therefore, unconstitutional. The legal maneuver worked for a short time for Karl LaGrand, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed the execution. But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the stay within hours.

Karl LaGrand accepted the state's last-minute offer of lethal injection. Walter LaGrand rejected such an offer, saying he preferred to die in a cloud of cyanide gas to protest the death penalty and his brother's execution.

The last Arizona prisoner to die in the gas chamber was Donald Harding in 1992. Harding's death was considered so gruesome that state statutes were revised to require prisoners condemned to die after November 1992 to be executed by injection. It took Harding 11 minutes to die.

Those sentenced to death before 1992, like the LaGrands, are given a choice of the 2 methods.

Thirty-eight states have capital punishment, and six states offer the gas chamber as an optional method of execution, according to Richard Dieter, executive director of the nonprofit National Death Penalty Information Center. Only 10 of more than 500 inmates executed since the death penalty was restored in 1976 have been gassed, he said.

The LaGrand brothers' case has drawn widespread attention in Germany and Europe. Germany does not have the death penalty.

The brothers were born in Augsburg, Germany, and moved to southern Arizona as children. Karl LaGrand was the first German citizen executed in the United States since World War II.

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