HARRISBURG — A federal appeals court stopped the execution of a Pennsylvania inmate Thursday, hours before he was scheduled to be put to death for shooting to death a teenage hitchhiker nearly two decades ago.
The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the case of Hubert Lester Michael Jr. back to a district court judge for additional proceedings.
Michael had faced a 7 p.m. execution by lethal injection for the 1993 killing of 16-year-old Trista Elizabeth Eng in York County.
He would have been the first person executed in the state since 1999, the fourth in the past quarter century and the only one in the past 50 years who had not voluntarily given up on his appeals.
A statement released by his lawyers welcomed the decision and said their client has “compelling legal claims which have never been reviewed by any court.”
The circuit court panel directed the district court to address, among other things, whether Michael’s appeal should be considered a successive petition that is subject to stricter rules, whether “extraordinary circumstances” existed and whether a district court proceeding is needed to consider the merits of Michael’s claims.