Huckabee Denies Noel Clemency Request

July 9, 2003 - Posted at: 4:52 p.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- An Arkansas death row inmate is moving closer to execution tonight.

Governor Huckabee denied a request for clemency Wednesday and a divided state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that he is not entitled to a final medical test that might determine whether he is mentally retarded.

Riley Dobi Noel's last hope rests with the US Supreme Court.

Noel is scheduled to die at 9 pm for killing three children by shooting them in the head after forcing them to lie on their kitchen floor. Prosecutors said Noel mistakenly believed their sister had set up his brother for a drive-by gang killing.

Defense lawyers argue that, despite tests showing an IQ of 80, Noel has a brain disorder and that executing him would violate a U-S Supreme Court directive. It says medical tests not developed by the time of Noel's 1996 trial might reveal more about his mental health.

Noel has a filing pending with the US Supreme Court.

Huckabee spokesman Jim Harris says the custom is for the US Supreme Court to take up a filing only if a governor first denies clemency -- thus, eliminating the last remedy at the state level for a convict facing execution.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.