Supreme Court refuses to halt execution


The U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to halt the execution of a self-described high priest of a pagan religion who was to receive a lethal injection for fatally stabbing a fellow inmate.

But it was unlikely that Michael W. Lenz, 40, would be put to death Thursday night as scheduled.

Lenz’s lawyer, Jenny Givens, said she planned to file a request for a stay with U.S. District Court in Richmond so Lenz could begin a new round of appeals.

“He’s entitled to a stay pending his federal appeals,” said Givens. “He will not be executed Thursday night.”

Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, agreed that Lenz could avoid execution Thursday if he files a habeas appeal in U.S. District Court.

A habeas filing enables a court to inquire whether a person is being detained justly.

Lenz was sentenced to die for plunging a homemade knife into Brent Parker 68 times four years ago at the Augusta Correctional Center.

Lenz declined a telephone interview from the Greensville prison, where he was being held a few feet from the execution chamber that houses the electric chair and the gurney used for lethal injections.

Lenz argued at his July 2000 trial that he feared Parker and killed him in self-defense.

Lenz, then serving a seven-year sentence for a string of burglaries in Prince William County, said he was the high priest of a Nordic cult called Asatru. Parker was trying to bully him out of the cult, Lenz testified.

Lenz and friend Jeffrey Remington attacked Parker during an Asatru ceremony while surrounded by witnesses.

Remington committed suicide Feb. 23 by hanging himself with a bed sheet on death row.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Associated Press, USA
June 30, 2004
Bill Baskervill
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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday June 30, 2004.
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