Mississippi Preps for Year's First Execution

Willie Jerome Manning, who is scheduled to be the first person Mississippi executes in 2013, is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider several issues that could have affected his sentence.

Willie Jerome Manning, who is scheduled to be the first person Mississippi executes in 2013, is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider several issues that could have affected his sentence. Photo by Courtesy Flickr/Melissa

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Willie Jerome Manning received the death penalty for the December 1992 killings of two Mississippi State University students: Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler.

Willie Jerome Manning, who is scheduled to be the first person Mississippi executes in 2013, is asking the state Supreme Court to reconsider several issues that could have affected his sentence.

Manning received the death penalty for the December 1992 killings of two Mississippi State University students: Tiffany Miller and Jon Steckler. Miller was shot twice in the face at close range, one leg was out of her pants and underwear, and her shirt was pulled up. Steckler's body had abrasions that occurred before he died, and he was shot once in the back of the head. A set of car tracks had gone through the puddles of blood and over Steckler's body, documents state.

Manning was arrested in part because he lived five miles from the crime scene and had tried to sell jewelry that officials said belonged to Miller and Steckler. An Oktibbeha County jury convicted Manning of the murders in 1994.

This morning, the Mississippi Innocence Project filed a brief in support of Manning, who says forensic technology that was unavailable at the time of his trial would prove he is innocent. In recent filings, Manning asked for DNA testing and said that prosecutors selected his jury in a discriminatory manner.

David Voisin, Manning's attorney, said one of the tactics prosecutors used was to disqualify jury candidates citing the fact that they read liberal publications. Voisin said those candidates listed publications such as Jet and Ebony magazines on a jury questionnaire.

On April 25, the Mississippi State Supreme Court voted 4-5 to deny Manning's claims. He is scheduled to be executed May 7 at Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman.

In 2012, Mississippi tied with Arizona and Oklahoma for second-most executions carried out in the United States, with six in each state. Texas led the nation with 15 executions in 2012.

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