Hubert Michael Jr.

Hubert Lester Michael Jr., who sits on death row in a Pennsylvania prison, lost one of his last chances to avoid the death penalty Nov. 7 when the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons voted unanimously to reject his petition for clemency.

The board’s action would have left Michael with only one option, a reprieve by Governor Tom Corbett.

But by Nov. 8, the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of execution. Michael’s attorneys said that the state attorney general challenged the stay by filing an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse the Third Circuit’s order and to allow the execution to proceed.

The Supreme Court upheld the stay Michael’s execution was not carried out as planned for Nov. 8.

An action regarding Michael’s death-penalty appeal rights might proceed in the federal courts and take several weeks to resolve, according to legal observers with the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference.

Michael, 56, was sentenced to death for the 1993 shooting of a York teenage girl.

Letters from the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania were sent to the state Board of Pardons and Gov. Corbett urging them to commute Michael’s sentence to life imprisonment. To date, advocates mobilized by the PCC have sent nearly 2,000 messages in support of the life term to the board and the governor through the Catholic Advocacy Network.

Archbishop Charles Chaput strongly opposed use of the death penalty for another inmate in a recent CatholicPhilly.com column.

If appeals and legal actions fail to prevent the execution, Michael would be the first inmate put to death in Pennsylvania in 13 years and the first non-volunteer in 50 years.