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Killer Won't Fight His Execution in Nevada

Punishment: South African man who shot his estranged wife's lover in the desert insists the death was accidental, but that since he is unjustly imprisoned, he wants to die soon.

April 07, 2001|From Associated Press

CARSON CITY, Nev. — A South African man sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife's lover in the desert outside Las Vegas has been transferred to the Nevada State Prison as his execution date nears.

Sebastian Bridges, 37, still refuses to appeal his April 21 execution by injection, even though he is entitled to an automatic stay when an appeal is filed.

Bridges was transferred from the High Desert Prison near Las Vegas to the Nevada State Prison on Thursday, and prison officials disclosed the transfer on Friday.

Prison spokesman Glen Whorton described Bridges as "cooperative, not displaying any problems." The inmate was put in a single cell in a high-security area. He won't be moved to a cell near the execution chamber until just before his scheduled date.

Michael Pescetta, the assistant federal public defender who is trying to persuade Bridges to seek a stay, said Friday that the inmate so far remains adamant about not appealing. He also has rejected interview requests.

Bridges even tried to move up his execution to next week, filing a petition with the state Supreme Court. But the high court refused Thursday to change the April 21 date.

In his petition, Bridges is "raising the same problems with his conviction that he always has raised--and they've always been ignored," Pescetta said. The convict says he is imprisoned unjustly and so any delay in his death is cruel and unusual punishment.

Bridges was sentenced to death for the October 1997 shooting death of Hunter Blatchford, who had been romantically involved with Bridges' estranged wife, Laurie.

Pescetta has said Bridges has a strong basis for an appeal because he was prevented from using his own money, about $56,000 seized when he was arrested, to hire a lawyer for his trial.

As a result, Pescetta said Bridges wound up defending himself--and getting a death sentence "for what people are saying is not a death penalty case."

Bridges' 6th Amendment right to counsel wasn't raised by a Clark County public defender in a mandatory appeal to the state Supreme Court, and the high court wouldn't let Pescetta's office raise the issue because the county defender hadn't.

During his trial, Bridges' estranged wife testified they had been apart for about six months when Bridges, then living in Southern California, tracked her down in Las Vegas. She said her new lover insisted the three get together for a talk.

Instead, she said, Bridges lured them to his car and drove into the desert outside Las Vegas, where he pulled a gun and shot Blatchford once in the stomach.

He then repeatedly told his wife "it's all your fault." She was handcuffed while he buried Blatchford in a shallow grave.

Driving back to Las Vegas, Bridges stopped along the highway and a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper pulled up behind him, thinking he was having car trouble. Bridges was arrested when the trooper saw blood in the vehicle.

During his trial, Bridges insisted the shooting was an accident.

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