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Supreme Court sets execution date

January 1, 2007
The Indiana Supreme Court has set the execution date for a death row inmate whose requests for successive post-conviction proceedings were denied Monday.

David Leon Woods is set for execution by injection before sunrise May 4. He is being put to death for the stabbing of an elderly DeKalb County man during a robbery in 1984.

A Boone County jury convicted Woods of murder and robbery in the 1980s. He was found guilty of the murder of 77-year-old Juan Placenia, who was an acquaintance of Woods and his mother. Woods and two others had devised a plan to steal Placenia ;s television, but during the robbery Woods fatally stabbed Placenia 21 times in the face, neck, and torso.

The Supreme Court issued a 7-page order Monday stating that Woods did not meet his burden of establishing a reasonable probability that he ;s entitled to relief based on claims he is mentally retarded and had a disagreement with his attorneys about strategy.

The order states that Woods did not prove he is mentally retarded, citing no expert testimony despite one doctor ;s description of "clear evidence of brain damage." A second claim relating to a "conflict of interest" with post-conviction counsel was raised too late, the justices ruled, and that doesn ;t diminish other courts ; conclusions that Woods received a fair post-conviction hearing.

Woods would be the first person to be put to death in Indiana since January 2006, when Marvin Bieghler was executed. The high court temporarily stayed the January execution of Norman Timberlake while the Supreme Court of the United States reviews a similar legal issue involving what constitutes mental illness in relation to execution.
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