Navajo man on federal death row seeks stay of execution

August 19, 2020 GMT

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The only Native American on federal death row is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to put his execution on hold while he seeks review of a lower court decision over potential racial bias in his case.

It’s rare but not unheard of for the high court to grant a stay. The Supreme Court has so far refused to halt any of the most recent federal executions, though legal volleying in some of the cases delayed the inmates’ deaths by hours.

Lezmond Mitchell, who is Navajo, is scheduled to be put to death Aug. 26 at the federal prison in Indiana where he’s been held. He was convicted in the 2001 killings of Alyce Slim and her granddaughter during a carjacking on the Navajo reservation.


Mitchell, 38, lost a bid in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to interview jurors in his case. His attorneys say there’s a “substantial likelihood” that the jury was impacted by racial bias.

The appeals court said Mitchell failed to show any discrimination occurred among the jury and pointed out several safeguards that were in place.