Executed March 13, 2003
 Michael Thompson
         Alabama's Death Row
Today, the State of Alabama has put to death an innocent man.  Since I’m already dead, and have nothing to gain, perhaps society will finally listen.  My blood is on your hands, but I’ve prayed that God will forgive you all, for you don’t realize what you are doing.
         Read:  WILL YOU HEAR ME NOW ?
     Click here for Florida's C.U.A.D.P page on Michael Thompson
 Click here for a letter to print, sign, and mail in support of Michael


On March 13, 2003 the State of Alabama executed Michael Thompson by lethal injection.  The state and federal governments failed to ensure Thompson’s right to a fair and impartial trial, his right to an attorney when arrested, his right to competent attorneys at trial and his right to a fair and unbiased clemency hearing.  A forced confession and total ineffectiveness of his attorneys at trial resulted in his execution.


On December 10, 1984 Mrs. Maisie Gray was kidnapped from the convenience store where she worked in Attalla, Alabama.  She was found in a well January 5, 1985 after Mr. Thompson’s live in girlfriend, Shirley Franklin went to the police and took them to the body.  Michael Thompson was arrested that afternoon at his mother’s home.  He was tried and convicted of capital murder.

                                        Salient Issues

· After Thompson was arrested, he was interrogated for more than 24 hours,
refusing to speak and repeatedly requesting a phone call and an attorney.

· A signed waiver form where he “refused to talk” was not found until years
later during the appeals process.

· When it became apparent that Thompson would not confess, the police
brought in another law enforcement official who knew Thompson.  He told
Thompson that they could place Shirley at the well and if he did not confess
they would put her in the electric chair with him.  He also promised to let her go if he did confess.

· Thompson asked to speak to Shirley and she was immediately brought in,
wearing handcuffs and begging him to “save her life”.

· Thompson immediately waived his right to remain silent and gave a false

· Shirley Franklin’s criminal history was not allowed at trial – she had been
convicted of armed robbery twice and spent 8 years in an Indiana prison.

· His attorneys allowed him to testify at trial, telling him his confession “had
killed him”.

· When Thompson found out his girlfriend Shirley had gone to the police, his
only goal was to “take her with him”.  Allowing him to testify at trial and
basically again confess to capital murder while trying to implicate Shirley, was a trial strategy that “they knew was meritless and that no professionally
trained competent lawyer would have considered reasonable.

· His OWN attorneys compared him to the devil in closing arguments.

· Shirley Franklin – to this day – maintains she was wearing a wire when she
spoke with Thompson getting him to confess.  The tape has never been found.

· One of the jurors was Administrator for the Court – he knew the Judge and

· The only eyewitness at the convenience store, under hypnosis, described a
man who was in the store minutes before Mrs. Gray was reported missing.  He did not describe Thompson and he was not called to testify at trial.

· The first investigator at the scene, Joe Duncan, still maintains it was NOT
Michael Thompson in the convenience store that night.


Michael Thompson was convicted of capital murder after the jury deliberated for 20 minutes.  They also spent 20 minutes deciding to recommend the death penalty.  His conviction was based solely on the testimony of Shirley Franklin, a twice-convicted felon and his confession, which was later, ruled “involuntary” by a Federal Judge because of the use of promises and threats.

As harmful as the confession was, had his trial attorneys not allowed him to testify, having this conviction overturned on appeal was a strong possibility.  His appeals attorneys still believe he would likely not have been convicted of capital murder accept that his trial attorneys pursued irrational and actively harmful trial strategies rather than developing readily available exculpatory and mitigating evidence.

The only physical evidence at the scene of the crime was Shirley Franklin’s bathrobe.  While Shirley Franklin maintained her fear of Michael Thompson, law enforcement officials have stated that she was seen alone numerous times between December 10 and January 5 had she wanted to come forward.


The courts in Alabama NEVER properly evaluated the involuntariness of his confession.  The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals simply signed the brief submitted by the State without even changing a comma.  Finally in November of 1997, the Federal District Court held an evidentiary hearing on the confession and ruled orally that the confession was involuntary based on its finding that law enforcement officials obtained the confession by deceiving Michael Thompson that Shirley Franklin had been arrested and by promising not to prosecute her.  Two and one half years later, this same judge stated he had committed two reversible errors – holding the hearing and making an oral ruling it would grant the habeas writ.  This later finding was based on AEDPA, which was not in effect when this motion was filed.  AEDPA became law in 1996.  Thompson’s petition was filed in Federal District Court in 1994.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found “as a matter of law” that a police threat that his girlfriend will be electrocuted if he maintained his right to silence coupled with an explicit promise to him that she will be spared prosecution if he admits guilt cannot be considered when determining if his confession is voluntary solely because there was probable cause to charge his girlfriend with a crime at the time the threat and promise were made.

The facts are that Shirley Franklin was never considered a suspect.  A law enforcement official testified at the District Court hearing that there was never any evidence to implicate her in the crime and the State of Alabama PAID her the reward money.


Michael Thompson was executed despite clear and convincing evidence that his constitutional rights were violated.  There is also ample evidence to cast more than “reasonable doubt” as to his role in this crime.  Mitigating evidence that could have saved his life was presented to the judge at his sentencing hearing a month after the jury was dismissed.  The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals did not weigh the mitigating and aggravating evidence properly – stating that the mitigating did not outweigh the aggravating.  The law states the aggravating MUST outweigh the mitigating.  They cannot be equal and a person be sentenced to death.   Governor Riley stated publicly on Friday, March 7 that he would NOT grant clemency in Thompson’s case.  The clemency hearing was scheduled for March 11 and Thompson’s attorneys refused to participate in a hearing that was clearly a farce.  We believe that all people are guaranteed the right to a fair and unbiased clemency procedure prior to execution.  This did NOT happen in Thompson’s case.  The Alabama Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court did not grant relief and Thompson was executed after being strapped to the gurney for an hour at Holman Prison in Atmore, Alabama. 

Dear Friends:

My name is Michael Thompson.  I'm a forty year old white male, and a prisoner on Alabama's death row. I was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to death for a crime I did not commit. I was just twenty-five years of age when I was arrested on January 5, 1985, over fifteen years ago.

While the details of the events are very complicated and have never been allowed to be told, essentially when I was arrested for the crime the police "tricked" me by telling me that my live-in girl was also under arrest, charged with the crime, and would be executed unless I gave a "confession" that I committed the crime. Out of determination to obtain a confession the police engaged in these "threats" against her life and "promises" to release her in exchange for the confession. She was brought in to see me, wearing handcuffs, weeping, professing her love for me, and begging me to "save her life", even though she was never under arrest, and was acting as an agent for the police to help force a false confession from me.

Prior to my arrest I had a record that consisted of some fifteen traffic violations that occurred in three separate traffic stops. No felony convictions. My live-in girlfriend was eleven years my senior, twice convicted of armed robbery, spent eight years in an Indiana State Prison, escaping prison three times, and was wanted for armed robbery as she conspired with the police to frame me for the crime in question. The crime was a month old  and the police had no leads until she came forward and led them to the victim's body, telling them that I committed the crime. The police were desperate to solve the crime, and acting on her word they rushed to arrest me, and to force a confession from me, despite my invoking my Constitutional Rights to remain silent, to receive counsel, and a telephone call. My invocation of mv rights was recorded onto the Miranda waiver sheet, witnessed by a second investigator and filed. Then the police very aggressively proceeded to interrogate me in repeated waves for over twenty-four hours in direct violation of my Constitutional Rights. When I continued to invoke my right, refusing to talk to the police, requesting an attorney and a telephone call, the police became very frustrated and designed the plan to use Promises, Threats, and Trickery that involved my live-in girlfriend. Having been held for over twenty-four hours "incommunicado"  ,put through waves of brutal interrogations, I finally agreed to say whatever they desired in exchange for her release, so that she could retain counsel for me as she promised.

The courts consider a "confession" the most damning evidence possible against a defendant. so the investigators will stoop to any level necessary to obtain a confession. They also cover up evidence that will jeopardize the validity of the confession, such as they did in my case when they failed to produce the waiver of rights sheet that recorded my refusal to waive my rights. in defiance of the court's order that all evidence both for and against be produced. However, the court itself helped in the prosecution's illegal actions by denying me a pre-trial suppression hearing in which to challenge the voluntariness of the coufession. The court, midway through the trial, simply allowed the confession into evidence under a "collateral benefit" doctrine that the Supreme Court had rejected some years prior.

Court appointed defense attorneys never attempted to even mount a defense since the prosecution would present the confession. They simply pled me guilty to capital murder in their opening statement, begging the jury to spare my life.

The State's key witness, my ex-girifriend, took the stand to testiiy against me. During recess the victim of her armed robbery made a positive identification that she was indeed the woman who had put a gun to his head and threatened to "blow his brains out ". The entire court knew this.  However, she was not arrested for the crime, because it would have destroyed her testimony as the State's key witness. Furthermore, she was paid some $11,000 in reward money for her services, and after the trial was able to erase her entire life long record. Professional investigation companies were unable to find that she ever existed.

It took me many years of worthless, wasted appeals in the State appeals courts before I was allowed to appeal to the Federal Courts. On November 13, 1997,  I attended a Federal District Court hearing on the voluntariness of the confession...my first opportunity to really challenge the confession, and the Federal Judge was so moved by the evidence that he issued a verbal ruling that day, ruling the confession "Involuntary" i.e., a product of promises, threats, and trickery, and illegally obtained. I was wrongfully convicted. Howeven even though the Federal Judge ruled the confession "involuntary", two years and three months later (as of March 1, 2000), I still sit on death row as if nothing happened. Having ruled that I was wrongfully convicted, you would think thai the Judge would be eager to correct the injustice that has been done.

My Pro Bono attorneys have taken a "do nothing" position, and they will not respond to my letters of concern, leaving me with no legal assistance nor advice. I should be a free man today, but due to the Judge's negligence and passive attorneys I still sit on death row condemned to die. How does a United States Federal Court Judge rule verbally that a man was wrongfully, convicted by the use of an illegal, involuntary confession, yet still fail to correct the wrong that was done twenty-seven months later?

I've come to realize that I'm in dire need of competent, diligent, aggressive attorneys who will press for resolve. Having no means in which to hire competent attorneys who will pursue my best interests, I am left sitting on death row, wrongfully convicted, ruled so by a Federal Court Judge, yet still helplessly condemned to death!  This wrongful conviction has stolen over fifteen years of my life, and I am no closer to my freedom than I was fifteen years ago, despite the Federal Court's ruling that I was in fact wrongfully convicted by use of an illegal, involuntary confession, a product of promises, threats, and trickery. Where's MY justice? I'm a United States citizen, and I'm entitled to the protections guaranteed under the Constitution.

The very same investigators who did this to me have caused that county to have to pay millions of dollars in law suits for the same illegal actions used against other innocent men in other cases. Their record speaks for itself Terrorism is their normal procedure for solving cases, and what they do is no different than putting a gun to the head of a loved one and demanding false confessions in exchange fortheir life,

It's become blatantly obvious to me that national exposure is required in order to force the wheels of justice along, and hopefully help me to obtain competent, aggressive legal assistance who will pursue my ultimate freedom from this wrongful conviction. I would deeply appreciate any and all support that is offered on my behalf

"Remember them that are in bonds. as though bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body." (Hebrews 13:3)

Thank you.

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson
Z-454    5-21
100 Warrior Lane
Bessemer, Alabama 35023 - 7299

Letters asking the Judge to end this delay of justice and issue an order for my release can be mailed to:

Hon. Judge U.W. Clemons
United States District Court
Northern District of Alabama
Hugo L. Black United States Courthouse
1729-5th Avenue North
Birmingham, Alabama 35203

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This page was last updated March 19, 2003            Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty
This page is maintained and updated by Dave Parkinson and Tracy Lamourie in Toronto, Canada