13 January 2006 :California is set to execute a 75-year-old blind man who has diabetes, suffered a heart attack in September and cannot walk unaided.
Clarence Ray Allen turns 76 on January 16. Unless a last-minute appeal to a federal court delivers a stay of execution or Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger grants clemency, it will be his last full day alive. At one minute past midnight on January 17, Allen will be executed by lethal injection in the same San Quentin chamber where the convicted murderer and gang leader Stanley "Tookie" Williams was executed in December.
In 1982 Allen was convicted of ordering the 1980 killings of Bryon Schletewitz, 27, Josephine Rocha, 17, and Douglas White, 18. Prosecutors alleged that Allen had ordered the killings while serving a life sentence for ordering the murder of an accomplice in a 1974 robbery. Schletewitz had testified against Allen in his first trial.
Prosecutors alleged that Allen paid Billy Ray Hamilton $25,000 (£14,000) to kill Schletewitz. When Hamilton was arrested he had a list of eight people who had testified against Allen.
This week lawyers representing Allen asked a federal court to block his execution. An appeal was rejected by the California supreme court on January 10.
After considering depositions from lawyers for Allen and from the district attorney, Governor Schwarzenegger will make a decision on clemency. But Allen's refusal to express remorse is unlikely to sit well with Schwarzenegger, who cited "Tookie" Williams's refusal as one of the grounds for rejecting clemency.
Allen's attorneys wrote in the petition to the California supreme court: "To wheel Mr Allen, a blind, aged, crippled and enfeebled man, into the execution chamber at San Quentin to be put to death would be a bizarre spectacle that shocks the conscience."
But prosecutors are adamant that Allen's past behaviour demonstrates that he is a threat even while incarcerated. "Allen was 50 years old when he orchestrated the ... murders," the deputy attorney general. Ward Campbell. wrote in a brief. "The fact that he faces execution as a senior citizen is his responsibility... Mr Allen has shown that imprisonment is simply no guarantee of public security."