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The Latest: Parole board declines to halt Georgia execution

October 18, 2016 - 1:25 PM

ATLANTA - The Latest on the scheduled execution of Gregory Paul Lawler in Georgia. (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles has declined to halt the execution of a prisoner who shot and killed a police officer.

Gregory Paul Lawler is scheduled to die Wednesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson.

The 63-year-old was convicted of murder in the October 1997 death of Atlanta police Officer John Sowa. He also critically injured Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

Lawler's attorneys say a recent autism diagnosis helps explain his actions the night the officers were shot. They argued in a clemency application that his life should be spared.

The parole board held a clemency hearing Tuesday. The board gave no reason for denying clemency. It's the only authority in Georgia with power to commute a death sentence.

Lawler's attorneys have also asked the courts to intervene.

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11:05 a.m.

Lawyers for a Georgia prisoner scheduled for execution this week argue their client should be granted a new trial because of a recent autism diagnosis.

Gregory Paul Lawler is scheduled to die Wednesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson.

The 63-year-old was convicted of murder in the October 1997 shooting death of Atlanta police Officer John Sowa. Authorities say Lawler also critically injured Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

His lawyers on Monday asked a judge to halt his execution and to grant an emergency request for a new trial, saying the court cannot be confident Lawler would receive a death sentence if jurors were aware that he suffered from autism spectrum disorder.

In a separate filing Tuesday, Lawler's lawyers argued his execution would violate his constitutional rights.

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3:25 a.m.

The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles is scheduled to hear arguments for clemency from representatives of an inmate scheduled for execution this week.

Gregory Paul Lawler is scheduled to die Wednesday by injection of the barbiturate pentobarbital at the state prison in Jackson. A clemency hearing is set for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

The 63-year-old was convicted of murder in the October 1997 shooting death of Atlanta police Officer John Sowa. Authorities say Lawler also critically injured Officer Patricia Cocciolone.

Prosecutors say Lawler shot the officers as they tried to bring his intoxicated girlfriend home.

Lawler's lawyers say a recent autism diagnosis helps explain his actions the night the officers were shot. They're seeking a commutation of his sentence.

Lawler would be the seventh Georgia inmate executed this year.

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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