Convicted Killer Gets New Attorney

It has been five years since Stephen McGilberry of Jackson County received the death penalty for killing four members of his family. After all that time, you would think his appeals would well be on their way through the state and federal courts. But McGilberry has yet to file his first federal appeal.

He is on death row, after being found guilty of using a baseball bat to kill his mother, stepfather, half sister, and her three-year-old son. The murders occurred in October, 1994, in the family's St. Martin home.

Friday, McGilberry was back in a Jackson County Courtroom asking for a new lawyer to handle his appeals. State law entitles Stephen McGilberry to have a lawyer who works for the newly created Office of Post Conviction Counsel. Simply put, that means Hattiesburg attorney Michael Adelman has been appointed to carefully review everything about the case and to prepare McGilberry's federal appeals.

Adelman says it will be his job to review the 1996 trial record and the appeal that automatically followed to the State Supreme Court.  He will look for any errors that were made that could force the higher courts to order a new sentence or even a new trial for McGilberry.

McGilberry was handcuffed and wore a surgical mask during his short court appearance.  The judge ordered the mask after McGilberry repeatedly threatened to spit on the deputies who were guarding him.

After the hearing, McGilberry asked if he could return to death row right away.  Judge James Backstrom said he thought that could be accomplished.