Stephen McNamee: Judge rejects death row inmate Murray Hooper's request to delay execution for '80s murders

Hooper's attorneys asserted that DNA testing might help identify the perpetrators of the murders of William 'Pat' Redmond and his mother-in-law Helen Phelps

Stephen McNamee: Judge rejects death row inmate Murray Hooper's request to delay execution for '80s murders
Judge Stephen McNamee (L) denied Murray Hooper's request to postpone his execution (Arizona Department of Corrections and University of Arizona/website)
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PHOENIX, ARIZONA: The lethal injection execution of an Arizona death row inmate scheduled on November 16, 2022, will go forward as planned after a judge denied his request to postpone it. The judge also rejected a request to allow a fingerprint and DNA testing on the evidence from two 1980s murders that supported the inmate's death sentence. Murray Hooper's murder trial is being conducted by Judge Stephen McNamee.

Hooper's attorneys asserted testing might help identify the perpetrators of the murders of William 'Pat' Redmond and his mother-in-law Helen Phelps and that there is no physical evidence linking their client to those crimes. They also claimed that testing proves their client is innocent. They asserted that Hooper was convicted at a time before criminal proceedings could use digital fingerprint technologies and DNA testing. According to the ruling issued on November 14 by US District Judge Stephen McNamee, Hooper's attorneys' contention that such testing will invariably prove his innocence was unsound. “Even if forensic testing establishes what Plaintiff (Hooper) hopes it will, that alone will not invalidate the other evidence used to convict him,” McNamee wrote, according to the US News.

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According to McNamee, the lack of Hooper's prints on any evidence will not invalidate eyewitness accounts that he participated in the killings. He paid particular attention to Marilyn Redmond's evidence. Officials claimed she had been shot in the head on December 31, 1980, when Hooper and two other men broke into the Redmond residence. She testified against Hooper after escaping the assault.

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In a statement, Hooper's attorneys, who are contesting the judge's ruling, urged the Arizona court to hold off on the execution plan until the testing was completed so his legal team had enough time to analyze the available information.

His attorneys further asserted that before identifying their client, who had previously claimed he was not in Arizona at the time, Marilyn Redmond had revised her account of the attackers many times. Additionally, they questioned the advantages the witnesses who testified against their client received, such as favorable treatment in other criminal cases.

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“For 40 years, Mr. Hooper has maintained that he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death based on corrupt police practices and unreliable witness testimony,” the defense team said. A lower-court judge had already ruled that the evidence implicating Hooper was substantial and state courts had previously denied Hooper's request for the tests.

William Bracy and Edward McCall, two other men who were found guilty of the murders but were never put to death, died over the years. According to the authorities, Pat Redmond, a co-owner of a printing company, was murdered by Hooper, Bracy, and McCall on behalf of Robert Cruz, who was suspected of having connections to organized crime. 

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