Monday, December 15, 2003

Virginia inmate faces Thursday execution date

In this article ("Man's execution set for Thursday -
Brain-damaged alcoholic faces death for murdering Christiansburg woman, 87," 12/15/03), the Richmond paper describes the issues being raised by lawyers for a Virginia inmate scheduled for execution this week for murdering an 87 year-old woman in Christiansburg.

The issues include the alleged incompetence of the defendant's lawyer:

"Reid's lead attorney at the time, Peter Augustus Theodore, said he had tried numerous capital-murder cases and other criminal jury trials. He said experienced lawyers he had consulted advised him to have Reid plead guilty. He said it was his experience that juries in Montgomery did not believe in the so-called voluntary-intoxication defense.

But Theodore was not being honest. In fact, last year the Virginia State Bar reprimanded him for making false and misleading statements in the case, and it took away his license to practice law until a physician and a psychiatrist say he is competent to continue.

Neither Theodore nor the lawyer who represented him before the state bar could be reached for comment. According to the bar order of Oct. 22, 2002, Theodore said he suffered from kidney stones "and takes a variety of prescription medications to address this and other health difficulties."

The bar order said there was evidence that three lawyers advised Theodore not to plead Reid guilty before Grubbs. The bar also found that Theodore apparently had never had a criminal jury trial in Montgomery, nor could he identify a case there in which voluntary intoxication was used as a defense in a capital-murder case.

Reid's petition argues that Theodore was unqualified to take a capital-murder case, and that he lied about his qualifications to get the case, for which he was paid $50,000. They also charge that he was not qualified to handle Reid's initial appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court."

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