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Lawyers Trying To Avert Va. Execution

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 16 (UPI) — Lawyers for a man convicted of raping and killing an elderly woman in her Virginia apartment are making final attempts to save his life.

Jerry Terrell Jackson, now 31, is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday, the Newport News Daily Press reported. Gov. Bob McDonnell declined Friday to commute his sentence to life without parole.

Ruth Phillips, 88, who lived in the Williamsburg area, was found by her son hours after her death in 2000. She had been smothered.

Jackson’s lawyers say his defense team erred at his 2002 trial by failing to use his brother and sister as witnesses to the horrific abuse all three suffered in childhood. A federal judge agreed in 2010, but her order for a new sentencing hearing was reversed by an appellate court.

Lawyers hope the U.S. Supreme Court will delay the execution and consider their appeal.

Andrew Protogyrou, who represented Jackson in 2002, said the decision was a strategic one and that he did present evidence of abuse from social workers, doctors and nurses, a police officer and Jackson’s parents and stepfather. Using his brother as a witness might have hurt his case, Protogyrou argued, because the brother, who suffered the same abuse, joined the Navy and has no criminal record.

Several jurors have said the additional evidence would have made no difference to their sentencing decision. Foreman Lewis Samuels said many children have been abused.

“As you grow older, you never get over it, but you accept the fact that I gotta get on with my life,” he said.

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