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U.S. appeals court halts Oklahoma execution

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DENVER, Colorado (Reuters) -- A federal appeals court Wednesday night stayed Thursday's execution of an Oklahoma man convicted of killing two restaurant workers and then burning their bodies when he was 17 years old.

The case of Scott Allen Hain has received national attention because he was a minor when he committed the murders in 1987.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals split 2-1 in granting a stay while the panel of judges considers Hain's latest appeal.

Hain seeks federal funds to pay lawyers to prepare his case for a second state clemency hearing. The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole board Monday denied Hain's clemency request. His lawyer said he could not present a credible case because he had not been able to prepare it due to lack of funds.

Last week the same panel ruled that indigent death row inmates are not entitled to federal funds to pay their lawyers in state clemency proceedings. Wednesday night's decision gives the panel an opportunity to reconsider last week's decision.

The issue of whether an inmate should be executed when he was convicted of committing a crime when he was a minor was not a part of Hain's latest appeal.

The president of the American Bar Association, Alfred Carlton, told Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry Tuesday that "Oklahoma will forever carry the blight of being the first jurisdiction in the world known to have executed a juvenile offender in 2003."

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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