Convicted ax killer seeks execution stay

The attorneys of a convicted ax murderer have filed paperwork today asking the Delaware Supreme Court to stay his execution until federal Supreme Court justices consider their claim that his trial attorney's improper behavior caused an innocent man to be wrongly convicted.

Bobby Jackson, 38, was sentenced to death after Elizabeth Girardi, 47, was hacked to death outside her Hockessin home in 1992. Girardi had intercepted Jackson and accomplice Anthony Lachette leaving her home with things they'd stolen to pawn for drug money.

A federal judge in Wilmington recently ordered Jackson’s execution, originally set for July 29, postponed. But the Delaware Attorney General's office on Monday responded by asking a federal appeals court to overturn the order. Jackson's lawyers countered with today's filing.

In their brief filed today in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Jackson’s lawyers contend Lachette separately confessed to four people that he killed Girardi. Further, Lachette hatched the robbery plan and knew the victim, giving him motive to kill her when confronted, the attorneys argue. They also raise concerns about Jackson's trial attorney, who told the trial and sentencing judge that he thought Jackson was guilty and “ought to die.”

“This is really a perfect storm for injustice,” said Marc Bookman, the Executive Director for the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a nonprofit aimed at improving the quality of representation in death-penalty trials. “You take a terrible and high-profile crime and give the accused, who is only 18, a lawyer who thinks his client is not only guilty but also should be executed by the state. Then the lawyer actually tells the judge what he thinks. Any judge would be significantly influenced by such an admission. Later, with competent representation, it turns out there is real evidence that Jackson is innocent. That’s the perfect storm – a terrible lawyer, a misled judge and an innocent man.”

Jackson also is trying to reopen a lawsuit challenging Delaware's use of lethal injection.