Lawyers for a federal prisoner scheduled to be put to death in December want a federal appeals court to halt his execution so they can interview jurors who heard his case.
Lezmond Mitchell’s attorneys said Tuesday that they filed the request for a stay with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
The move comes as the federal government has been preparing to execute inmates for the first time in decades. Mitchell, a member of the Navajo Nation from Round Rock, was among the first five on the list.
Mitchell’s attorneys argue that he should be given the opportunity to investigate his concerns about potential racial bias by the jury that heard his case. They say that executing him without looking into potential juror bias would be “a grave injustice.”
Prosecutors say Mitchell stabbed to death 63-year-old Alyce Slim in 2003 and slit the throat of her 9-year-old granddaughter, Tiffany Lee. Their beheaded, mutilated bodies were found in a shallow grave on the Navajo reservation.
Mitchell was being held at the Terre Haute Federal Correctional Institution in Indiana and was scheduled to be executed Dec. 11.
Reporter Lauren Castle contributed to this report.
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