U.S. Supreme Court halts execution of Hubert Michael - abc27 WHTM

U.S. Supreme Court halts execution of Hubert Michael

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Hubert Michael Jr. (April 2012) Hubert Michael Jr. (April 2012)
Michael in 1993 (left) and Trista Eng Michael in 1993 (left) and Trista Eng

The U.S. Supreme Court has stopped the execution of a former Lemoyne man who had been scheduled to die Thursday night for killing a York County teenager in 1993.

The high court upheld a ruling earlier in the day by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which stayed plans to give a dose of lethal drugs to Hubert Lester Michael Jr. at the Rockview state prison.

The state attorney general's office had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to order that the execution go forward.

The 56-year-old Michael has been sitting on death row for nearly 20 years for the murder of 16-year-old Trista Elizabeth Eng, a Trinity High School student from Dillsburg.

He would have been be the first person put to death in the state since 1999, and the only one executed in the past 50 years who hadn't given up on his appeals.

Department of Corrections spokeswoman Susan McNaughton said the execution will be scheduled directly if and when the stay is lifted by the court.

Michael offered to give Eng a ride to work as she walked along Route 15 from her home to her summer job at a Dillsburg restaurant. He then took her to state game lands in Warrington Township, shot her three times and hid her body in the woods.

Michael, who was out on bail for an unrelated rape charge in Lancaster County at the time of the killing, fled Pennsylvania in a rental car 10 days later and was arrested in Utah after five days on the run.

Authorities said he later confessed to the killing to his brother, who searched the game lands with other family members and found Eng's decomposed body. His explanation for the murder was that he was under so much pressure from the rape charge that he "just lost it,'' authorities said.

Michael fled the state a second time in November 1993 when he pretended to be another prisoner and escaped from the Lancaster County Prison. He was captured in New Orleans and returned to Pennsylvania in March 1994.

In September 1994, Michael was convicted of rape and other charges and sentenced to 10-20 years in prison. The following month, he pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder and kidnapping of Eng.

Three people in Pennsylvania have been executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1978; two in 1995 and one in 1999. Those three men - Keith Zettlemoyer, Leon Moser, and Gary Heidnik - had waived their appeals and asked that their sentence be carried out.

Zettlemoyer was convicted in Dauphin County for the 1980 murder of a friend, Charles DeVetsco, who was scheduled to testify against him in a robbery trial.

Moser was convicted in Montgomery County for the 1985 murders of his ex-wife, Linda, and their two daughters following Palm Sunday services at their church.

Heidnik was sentenced to two death sentences in July 1988 for murdering two women he had imprisoned in his Philadelphia home.

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