North Carolina's highest court rejected a petition from a condemned gay inmate Wednesday, and his attorneys are now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to stay his execution. Lawyers for Edward Hartman, 38, had asked state justices to stop the execution, scheduled for 2 a.m. Friday in Raleigh, and order a lower court to impose a life sentence instead. After the state court refused to intercede, Hartman's attorneys filed similar motions with the U.S. Supreme Court, saying the death sentence should be vacated because of antigay bias during the trial. The defense already has asked Gov. Mike Easley to grant executive clemency and convert the death sentence to life in prison.
At issue is the defense contention that Hartman was unfairly treated during his trial because a prosecutor repeatedly referred to Hartman's homosexuality, which had nothing to do with the killing. Hartman was sentenced to death for the 1993 killing of 77-year-old Herman Smith Jr. in the Pinetops community of Northampton County.
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