September 6, 2017
ATLANTA, GA –Attorney General Chris Carr offers the following information in the case against Keith Leroy Tharpe, who is currently scheduled to be executed on September 26, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. for the 1990 murder of his sister-in-law Jaquelin Freeman.
Tharpe has concluded his direct appeal proceedings and his state and federal habeas corpus proceedings. Accordingly, on September 6, 2017, the Superior Court of Jones County filed an order setting the seven-day window in which the execution of Keith Leroy Tharpe may occur to begin at noon, September 26, 2017 and ending seven days later at noon on October 3, 2017.
Tharpe’s Crime (September 25, 1990)
The Georgia Supreme Court summarized the facts of the case as follows:
Tharpe’s wife left him on August 28, 1990 and moved in with her mother. Following various threats of violence made by the defendant to and about his wife and her family, a peace warrant was taken out against him, and the defendant was ordered not to have any contact with his wife or her family.
Notwithstanding this order, Tharpe called his wife on September 24, 1990 and argued with her, saying if she wanted to “play dirty,” he would show her “what dirty was.”
On the morning of the 25th, his wife and her sister-in-law met Tharpe as they drove to work. He used his vehicle to block theirs and force them to stop. He got out of his vehicle, armed with a shotgun and apparently under the influence of drugs, and ordered them out of their vehicle. He then took his sister-in-law to the rear of his vehicle, where he shot her. He rolled her into a ditch, reloaded, and shot her again, killing her.
Tharpe then drove away with his wife. After unsuccessfully trying to rent a motel room, Tharpe parked by the side of the road and raped his wife. Afterward, he drove to Macon, where his wife was to obtain money from her credit union. Instead she called the police.
Tharpe v. State, 262 Ga. 110-111 (1992)
The Trial (1991)
Tharpe was indicted in the Superior Court of Jones County, Georgia for malice murder, two counts of kidnapping with bodily injury and armed robbery. Tharpe was convicted of malice murder and two counts of kidnapping with bodily injury and sentenced to death on January 10, 1991. Thereafter, Tharpe filed a motion for new trial, which was denied on August 15, 1991.
The Direct Appeal (1992)
The Georgia Supreme Court affirmed Tharpe’s convictions and death sentence on March 17, 1992.
Tharpe v. State, 262 Ga. 110 (1992)
The United States Supreme Court denied Tharpe’s request to appeal on October 19, 1992.
Tharpe v. Georgia, 506 U.S. 942 (1992)
State Habeas Corpus Proceedings (1993-2010)
Tharpe filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the Superior Court of Butts County, Georgia on March 17, 1993. In his petition, Tharpe alleged, among many other things, that he was intellectually disabled. Evidentiary hearings were held on May 28, 1998, August 24, 1998, October 1-2, 1998, December 11, 1998, December 23, 1998 and July 30, 2007. On December 1, 2008, the state habeas corpus court entered an order denying Tharpe state habeas relief, which included his claim of intellectually disability.
The Georgia Supreme Court denied Tharpe’s appeal on April 19, 2010. The United States Supreme Court denied Tharpe’s request to appeal on November 29, 2010.
Tharpe v. Upton, 562 U.S. 1069 (2010)
Federal Habeas Corpus Proceedings (2010-2017)
Tharpe filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia on November 8, 2010. On March 6, 2014, the district court denied Tharpe federal habeas relief. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of relief on August 25, 2016.
Tharpe v. Warden, Georgia Diagnostic & Classification Prison, 834 F.3d 1323 (11th Cir. 2016)
The United States Supreme Court denied Tharpe’s request to appeal on June 26, 2017.
Tharpe v. Sellers, 2017 U.S. LEXIS 4080 (2017)
In his federal habeas corpus appeal, Tharpe again raised a claim of intellectual disability. This claim was denied by the United States District Court, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court.