Judge Halts Execution of Virginia Inmate

Stay Issued After Supreme Court Rejects Separate Appeal

RICHMOND, Va. — A federal judge today halted the execution of a state prison inmate scheduled to die tomorrow night for stabbing to death a fellow inmate.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson of Charlottesville issued a stay so lawyers for Michael W. Lenz, 40, can pursue a habeas appeal through the federal courts. Earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a separate appeal from Lenz.

A habeas filing, routine in most death cases, enables a court to determine whether a person is being detained unjustly.

Lenz was sentenced to death for stabbing Brent H. Parker 68 times at the Augusta Correctional Center four years ago. Lawyers for Lenz argued at his July 2000 trial that he feared Parker and killed him in self-defense.

Lenz, who had been serving a seven-year sentence for a string of burglaries in Prince William County, said he was the high priest of a Nordic cult and Parker was trying to bully him out of the cult.

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Associated Press, USA
June 30, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday June 30, 2004.
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