The Mississippi Supreme Court is delaying the process of potentially setting an execution date for a death row inmate.
On Thursday, the high court temporarily suspended a motion filed by Attorney General Lynn Fitch’s office on November 9 to dismiss a second post-conviction relief effort by Willie “Fly” Manning’s legal counsel and schedule a date for his death.
Justices agreed that a decision on possibly setting the inmate’s death date will be postponed until the court rules upon Manning’s motion for leave to file a successive petition to challenge his conviction. The AG’s office has until December 29 to provide the court with a response to Manning’s petition.
Manning, 55, was convicted of the murders of two Mississippi State University students, Jon Steckler and Tiffany Miller, in 1994.
In August 2022, the state supreme court denied an appeal from Manning who is sitting on death row after being found guilty of two counts of capital murder.
The death row inmate had also been the subject of another double-murder case involving the killing of 90-year-old Emmoline Jimmerson and her 60-year-old daughter, Albertha Jordan, in their Starkville apartment. Manning’s charges were dropped after the Mississippi Supreme Court discovered that prosecutors had hidden evidence of a key witness lying.
Days before his scheduled execution in May 2013, the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI found that faulty DNA evidence had been used to convict Manning of the capital murder charges.
Manning then filed an appeal requesting for his DNA samples to be tested at a different lab than the one the FBI had used.
Despite Manning’s request, the Mississippi Supreme Court believed it had enough evidence to deny the appeal by using DNA evidence and fingerprint analysis from one of Manning’s previous rulings.
The filing was submitted just days before the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from Manning to have evidence in his case tested at a specialized DNA laboratory.
Manning continues to maintain his innocence to this day.