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Judge Asked to Block Execution

January 12, 2006|From Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — California's oldest condemned inmate asked a federal judge late Wednesday to block his execution next week, saying it would be cruel and unusual because of his age and health problems.

The last-ditch legal move by attorneys for Clarence Ray Allen follows a decision a day earlier by the California Supreme Court rejecting the same challenge. Allen is to be executed Tuesday.

"Mr. Allen seeks that relief because his execution would inflict cruel and unusual punishment upon him in violation of the Eighth Amendment in light of his advanced age and infirmities following more than 23 years of confinement on death row," Allen's attorney, Somnath Raj Chatterjee, wrote in court papers.

Allen, 75, is legally blind and nearly deaf. He had a heart attack in September and uses a wheelchair.

State prosecutors said they would urge the court to reject Allen's petition.

While serving time for murder at Folsom State Prison in 1980, Allen was sentenced to death for hiring a man to kill three people at a Fresno market. Allen had them killed because he feared their testimony would hurt his appeal chances.

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