Monday, December 11, 2006

Inmate's attorneys fight against execution

Inmate's attorneys fight against execution

Associated Press Writer
December 11. 2006 3:51P

A federal appeals court has refused to stop Wednesday's execution of the convicted killer of a Miami topless club manager.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta denied Monday the motions of Angel Nieves Diaz, 55, for a stay of execution and a request to file another appeal.

According to his state-paid attorney, Suzanne Myers Keffer, Nieves still had appeals pending with the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its five-page ruling, the appeals court turned down Nieves' claim of newly discovered evidence, on whether Nieves or an accomplice, Angel Toro, fatally shot Joseph Nagy while robbing the Velvet Swing in Miami in 1979. Toro received life in prison for second-degree murder as the result of a plea deal.

Nieves submitted a sworn statement from a jailhouse informant, Ralph Gajus, saying that he had lied when he told the jury Nieves admitted to him that he was the shooter.

"Because it does not present any new testimony, the affidavit given by Gajus is not newly discovered evidence," the appeals court ruled.

The appeals filed with the high court also challenged Florida's method of lethal injection. Similar arguments were made earlier this year by three other death row inmates who all lost their appeals and were executed.

Each has argued that Florida's three-chemical method is unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment because it results in extreme pain that an inmate cannot express because one of the drugs is a paralyzing agent.

Nieves was convicted of first-degree murder, four counts of kidnapping, two counts of armed robbery, one count of attempted robbery and one count of possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony for the holdup at the bar, in which most of the patrons were locked in a restroom.

Nieves' prior record includes a second-degree murder conviction in his native Puerto Rico and escapes there and in Connecticut. In 1981, he escaped from the Hartford Correctional Center by holding one guard at knifepoint while another was beaten as he and three other inmates escaped, according to court records.

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