Richard R. Laird, the murderer of gay artist Anthony V. Milano, recently told a federal judge to get his execution “over with” if he continues to receive ineffective legal representation.
Laird conveyed his desire in a recently disclosed letter to U.S. District Judge Jan E. DuBois. In the letter, Laird, 53, noted he’s been on death row for almost 30 years.
“For close to 30 years now, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has housed me in solitary confinement, while deciding whether or not to put me to death,” Laird wrote.
Laird added that he’s lost confidence in his court-appointed appellate attorneys. But when he asked them to consider stepping aside, they declined.
“While your honor, the attorney for the commonwealth and [my] counsel play your games of wits and skills, I suffer the daily effects of solitary confinement,” Laird wrote.
“Therefore, whether it be death or effective representation, I pray your honor moves swiftly and gets it over with,” he concluded.
Shortly after the letter was sent, DuBois reiterated his denial for Laird’s request for another trial. Laird remains on death row in a state prison in Waynesburg, Pa.
But in 2015, Gov. Tom Wolf issued a temporary halt on all executions in Pennsylvania. Thus, it’s unlikely that Laird’s execution will take place any time soon.
In 1988, Laird and Frank R. Chester were sentenced to death for kidnaping Milano to a wooded area in Bucks County, then brutally stabbing him to death. Milano’s throat was slashed so severely, his head was almost severed from his torso, according to court records.
Laird eventually admitted stabbing Milano, but claimed he was incapable of forming a specific intent to kill due to extreme inebriation and other mental-health challenges.
Laird was granted a retrial, and he was resentenced to death by a Bucks County jury in 2007.
He claims his appellate attorneys failed to object in a timely manner to two errors that allegedly took place during his 2007 retrial. Those alleged errors relate to Chester’s 1988 trial testimony being read to jurors, and victim-impact statements conveyed to jurors.
Attorneys for Laird had no comment for this story.
Milano’s sister and father, who are both deceased, previously supported the execution of Laird and attended both of his trials.
Jill M. Graziano, a Bucks County deputy district attorney, is handling post-conviction issues in Laird’s case. She expressed agreement with DuBois’ denial of another trial for Laird.
“This is now an almost-30-year-old murder case,” Graziano told PGN. “And I’m gratified to see that we’re one step closer, after all this time, to getting justice for Anthony Milano.”
In 2011, Chester’s first-degree murder conviction was voided due to improper jury instructions by the 1988 trial judge.
Rather than retry Chester, prosecutors struck a deal with him, and he’ll remain incarcerated for the rest of his life. Chester, 48, is currently housed in the general-prison population at Graterford.