An Altoona man on death row has sent a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell asking that his death warrant be signed, thereby carrying out a sentence imposed on him for the 1998 Thanksgiving Day murder of his former girlfriend's husband.
William L. Wright III, now 45, was convicted a decade ago of killing James Mowery in his Beale Avenue home.
Mowery and his wife lived next door to Wright, who allegedly had a brief affair with the wife.
Wright and the Mowerys, by then reconciled, argued during the early morning of Nov. 26, 1998. Later that morning, Wright was charged with shooting his way into the Mowery home and killing James Mowery.
A jury from Lebanon County sentenced him to death, but Wright, who still maintains his innocence, appealed his conviction.
In 2007, Wright became upset when the state Supreme Court, after years of deliberation, had failed to decide his appeal.
He filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court in Johnstown claiming inordinate delay in sentencing.
The state Supreme Court in December dismissed Wright's appeal saying that evidence of his guilt was "overwhelming."
Wright decided he would file no more appeals at the state level and carried on his fight in the federal court, but now he has dismissed his state appeals attorney and federal public defender, R. Thomas Forr of Altoona, and has said he wants to die.
On April 19, Wright sent a letter to Rendell stating he was writing to expedite the signing of his death warrant "so I can commence the death-penalty execution."
He said he is not seeking further hearings at the state level or before the U.S. Supreme Court.
On April 20, he notified the federal court in Johnstown of his letter to the governor.
Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo said this week that the Office of General Counsel will review the Wright case and recommend to the governor to sign or not sign the warrant.
Ardo said no inmate has been put to death during Rendell's six-plus years in office. Two inmates who ceased appealing their convictions were put to death under Gov. Tom Ridge.
"The governor is required to sign the death warrants once they reach his desk," Ardo said.
A spokesperson for the Office of General Counsel said nobody in that office could comment on Wright's case. The office wrote to Forr asking whether he intends to file further appeals.
Forr answered, saying Wright refuses to accept any communication from his office, and he has asked that he be dismissed as Wright's attorney, according to documents at the Blair County Courthouse.
Wright concluded his letter to the governor stating, "For what it's worth, I sincerely regret that the responsibility now falls on you to execute an innocent man. Thus, I would appreciate your prompt and speedy attention in this matter."