RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the appeal of a convicted killer and rapist whose taunting letter detailing the crimes to a Virginia prosecutor led to a second trial and helped put him on death row.
The decision clears the way for the execution of Paul Warner Powell, 31, who was convicted of killing 16-year-old Stacie Reed and raping her 14-year-old sister, Kristie, in their Manassas home in 1999.
The high court temporarily delayed Warner’s execution in July to consider whether to hear his claim that he was unconstitutionally tried twice for the same crime. The justices did not comment on their reasons for rejecting the appeal.
“I’m hopeful this is the last legal chapter in the long history of this case,” said Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert, who prosecuted Powell. “The survivors – Stacie’s mother and Kristie – have really been traumatized by delay after delay. Hopefully they’re going to get some peace and closure after all these years.”
Powell’s attorney, Jonathan Sheldon, did not immediately return phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.
Powell was convicted in 2000 of killing Stacie Reed and raping and attempting to kill Kristie. Powell and Stacie Reed were acquaintances. The Virginia Supreme Court overturned the verdict, saying Powell couldn’t get the death penalty because he did not rape or rob Stacie or commit other death-qualifying offenses.
Thinking he could no longer face the death penalty, Powell then wrote a profanity-laced letter to Ebert graphically detailing Stacie’s slaying.
Powell, who is white and a self-avowed racist, wrote that he went to Stacie’s house to talk to her about her black boyfriend, pinned her down and threatened to rape her, then stabbed her in the heart when she fought back. He then went downstairs, had a cigarette and some iced tea, and waited for Kristie to get home from school.
“Do you just hate yourself for being so stupid and for (messing) up and saving me?” he wrote to Ebert in 2001.
Ebert withdrew the first indictment and charged Powell with killing and attempting to rape Stacie – a capital crime. Powell was convicted again in 2003 and sent to death row.
The Associated Press doesn’t usually identify sexual assault victims, but Kristie Reed gave permission for her name to be used.