ATLANTA — A death row inmate convicted of the 1988 murder of a preschool fitness instructor was set to be executed Tuesday, and his attorneys were readying a flurry of last-minute appeals seeking to postpone the execution.
Emmanuel Hammond was scheduled to be put to death by injection at the state prison in Jackson for the murder of Julie Love, 27, who was abducted in north Atlanta after her car ran out of gas.
Hammond, 45, has filed appeals claiming the conviction should be reversed because his trial lawyer made mistakes that led to his 1990 conviction. And his lawyers have claimed that they need more time to investigate the state's supply of a lethal injection drug amid a nationwide shortage.
Through it all, though, prosecutors have urged judges to uphold the conviction of the man nicknamed "Demon" who had vowed to his girlfriend after a prison stint that he would never let another of his victims live to send him back to the penitentiary.
The court records lay out Love's killing in stark terms:
The petite instructor was returning home from a regular Monday night "career chat" meeting with friends in north Atlanta when her car ran out of gas. As she walked down the road looking for help, a maroon Cutlass sedan carrying Hammond, his girlfriend Janice Weldon and his 18-year-old cousin Maurice Porter pulled by her to offer help.
She declined the offer, telling the group she lived in a nearby house. But before they drove away, someone in the car realized Love had tricked them. The car turned around and Hammond jumped out with a sawed-off shotgun and threw Love onto the car's floorboard.
They drove her to an elementary school in a rundown neighborhood, where Porter rummaged through her purse and found a few ATM cards. Hammond, his gun at the ready, forced Love to hand over her pin number. But she was so nervous that she apparently gave him the wrong number.
Hammond sent Porter and Weldon to withdraw money from her account while he held her at gunpoint. When Weldon realized they would be returning empty handed, she told Porter: "Demon going to be mad."
She was right. Hammond hit Love repeatedly with the gun barrel, and Porter pulled her aside and raped her. After a disgusted Weldon left, Hammond bound Love's hands, feet and neck with coat hangers and covered her in a blanket. She somehow managed to free her hands, yelling "Don't do it."
Then, Hammond marched Love through trash-strewn bushes into the woods. About three minutes later, Porter heard a gunshot and saw Hammond return with blood spots on his face. When Porter said to his cousin, "you didn't do what I think you did," Hammond's only response was "had to."
Love's disappearance put her friends and family into a frenzy. Her fiance, Mark Kaplan, who had popped the question just a week before she went missing, found her abandoned red Mustang and prodded the police to launch an investigation. Then he made flyers, organized rallies and fielded volunteers at his house.
It was almost a year until investigators made a break in the case. In July 1989 Weldon, infuriated after suffering a particularly brutal beating by Hammond, went to the police station and told them about Love. Officers outfitted her with a recording device and sent her to talk to Porter, who corroborated what she said.
Authorities arrested Porter and Hammond, and they found Love's body in a trash dump in August 1989 about 30 yards from where Porter told them it would be.
Porter pleaded guilty to murder and rape charges and was sentenced to life in prison. Weldon was given immunity in return for her testimony. And Hammond was convicted of murder and sentenced to die.
Hammond filed appeals that contended his trial lawyer was ineffective, but each has been denied by state and federal courts.
His lawyers tried a new strategy last week to try to delay the execution, saying they needed more time to review details about the lethal injection drug that corrections officials intend to use. But a Fulton County judge rejected the appeal, saying Hammond had no evidence that the drug was "adulterated or inferior."
Love's friends and family, meanwhile, are still trying to cope with her death. Roz Cohen, an administrator at The Epstein School, where Love worked, recalled a vivacious, energetic teacher whose life ended far too soon.
"She was so excited about her future," said Cohen. "A life, right at the beginning, was just cut short because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time."