Allen had just received his last meal - a Whopper, French friesand a strawberry shake - when word came Thursday evening that the4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld a federal judge'sorder stopping his execution.
Although the stay had been in effect since Wednesday morning,state officials were preparing to execute Allen, 42, for the 1985murder of state Highway Patrol trooper Raymond Worley. Stateattorneys had been confident they could persuade the 4th Circuit tooverturn the stay.
``The execution will not go on as scheduled'' at 2 a.m. today,said Chief Deputy Attorney General Andrew Vanore.
Preparations for the execution by lethal injection wereproceeding when the call came from the appeals court clerk's officeabout 5:15 p.m. Allen had gotten his modest last meal in the deathwatch area across the hall from the death chamber. His family hadvisited earlier in the day. An official was setting up a podium atthe prison's visitor center for a news conference after theexecution, if it came.
Now, Allen will be moved back to the death row area, where 175inmates await execution. It will be months, at least, before he issummoned by the warden to return to the death watch cells, wherethree guards watch him constantly, because his attorneys plan a newround of appeals.
Vanore said attorneys didn't have time to appeal the 4th Circuitdecision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
``We had decided to go to the 4th Circuit and if we didn't getany relief there, we'll just try to get the issue decided as soonas possible,'' Vanore said. ``At some point in time, we're veryconfident that Mr. Allen will have justice done, but it's not goingto be tomorrow.''
Worley's widow, Jacqueline, didn't answer the telephone at herConway home, but had said earlier she was getting angry withdelays.
There was no immediate word from prison officials on Allen'sreaction to the news, but family members outside the prison saidthey were happy and that Allen wasn't guilty.
The stay had been appealed on grounds that U.S. District CourtMalcolm Howard in Raleigh didn't have authority to stop theexecution under a new federal law designed to speed appeals indeath cases.
Howard said the state had miscalculated the time Allen had tofile a federal appeal of his state conviction. He said the new lawgives Allen until Feb. 10, 1998, to seek the review.
The state argued Allen's one year should be counted from Aug.23, 1996, when his appeal was denied in a state Superior Courtinstead of from Feb. 11, when his appeal was denied by the stateSupreme Court.
Allen hasn't sought a federal review of his conviction and deathsentence, but the two state Supreme Court decisions in his casehave been reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
By ESTES THOMPSON,Associated Press WriterCopyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.
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