Convicted killer Michael Samra's lawyer says his execution, set for Thursday, will not fix things: 'There is only tragedy in a death sentence'

The SC bans executing inmates who were younger than the age of 18 at the time they committed their crimes. A move to include 19 and 20-year-olds in the ban was rejected


                            Convicted killer Michael Samra's lawyer says his execution, set for Thursday, will not fix things: 'There is only tragedy in a death sentence'

Michael Samra is set to be executed by lethal injection on May 16 at William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Alabama, after the United States Supreme Court rejected a stay on his death sentence. The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, May 14, announced that it has refused to consider expanding its ban on executing people who committed their crimes as juveniles, declining to review Samra's case who was involved in a quadruple murder at the age of 19.

"This was our last attempt to put a stay on Michael's execution, it's been denied," Samra's attorney Steven Sears told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW). "I am disappointed but I understand that there are divisions in the court. They did not explain their ruling but they went against it."

The SC bans executing inmates who were younger than the age of 18 at the time they committed their crimes. Sears, along with chief attorney John Magrisso, had asked the SC Justices to consider including 19 and 20-year-olds in their ruling too. The Justices, however, denied their request.

Mark Anthony Duke was 16 years old when he decided to kill his family of four, including two children in Shely County, Alabama, on March 22, 1997. He involved 19-year-old Michael Brandon Samra in his plotting and two of his other friends who were in a getaway car outside Duke's home. The 16-year-old shot and killed his father Randy Duke, his fiancée Dedra Mims Hunt and one of her two daughters, six-year-old Chelisa Nicole Hunt. Meanwhile, Samra slit the throat of the other child, seven-year-old Chelsea Marie Hunt. The two assailants used knives to slit the throats of the children after they ran out of bullets.

Mark Duke and Michael Samra were sentenced to death after their conviction in 1997 (Shelby County Sheriff's Office)

Duke initiated the bloodbath because he was angry at his father for refusing to let him borrow a pickup truck, according to statements made by co-defendants. Samra was the one who admitted his involvement in the crime and led authorities to the murder weapons.

The teenagers, Duke and Samra, were handed the death penalty after their trials. The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, in 2005, however, overturned Duke's death penalty owing to his age at the time he committed the crime. He is currently serving a life sentence without parole. David Layne Collums and Michael Lafayette Ellison, who were in the getaway car, were released from state prisons in March 2013.

Samra, however, continues to be on death row and is set to be executed on Thursday. He is now 42 years old. Samra's attorneys said that they have a clemency petition with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in their last-ditch effort to save Samra's life. However, they believe that it might be too late to expect the clemency grant to come through.

"We still have a clemency petition pending with the governor of Alabama. She was contacted yesterday, she said she's considering it but we have not heard much from her side so far," Sears said.

Michael Brandon Samra at the age of 42

When asked if he was expecting the clemency to be granted before Thursday, Sears added: "I don't expect that the clemency will be granted before the execution day, that is Thursday. Although, I hope it is. If it is granted after Thursday, it won't do any good. This whole thing started with a tragedy that cost four people their lives, and now we are going to make it five people and that's not going to really set things right."

When Duke's revised sentence was brought into the conversation, Sears said that it is not justice "to give a heavier punishment to a peripheral figure who wasn't the main planner or instigator of the crime." The attorney said that it would be a mistake for Samra to be sentenced to death for this crime.

Magrisso, Samra's other attorney, has accepted his client's fate, releasing a statement saying: "We offer our condolences to the family and loved ones of Randy Duke, Dedra Hunt, and Chelisa and Chelsea Hunt, and to the parents and loved ones of Michael Samra."

He added, "The loss of life is always a tragedy, no less so when it is the State who seeks to inflict that loss.  There is only tragedy in a death sentence, tragedy in the act that leads a state to seek a death sentence, tragedy in the taking of another mother's child when the death sentence is carried out."