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Execution set for tonight
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ATLANTA - A Georgia inmate is set to be put to death for the 2001 murders of a Paulding County woman and her 3-year-old daughter.

Nicholas Cody Tate is set to die by lethal injection at 7 p.m. on Tuesday for the murders.

Death penalty cases in Georgia usually take much longer to work through the system, but Tate's case is unusual because he refused to challenge his death sentence through habeas corpus appeals. Doing so would likely postpone his execution for years.

His lawyers won't comment on the case. But he offered his views at a 2009 hearing where he said, "you caught me red-handed."

Authorities say Tate and his two brothers broke into Chrissie Williams' home and killed the woman and her daughter. The two others are serving life sentences.

Earlier story


ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia pardons board denied clemency on Monday for a death row inmate who was convicted of the 2001 murders of a woman and her 3-year-old daughter, clearing the way for his execution later this week.

The Board of Pardons and Paroles issued its decision after hearing hours of testimony about the case of Nicholas Cody Tate, who is to be executed on Tuesday for the killings of Chrissie Williams and her daughter Katelyn.

Tate's case presents challenges to the legal system because it has moved particularly quickly through the typically slow-moving realm of death penalty law. Tate, however, refused to challenge his conviction and death sentence through habeas corpus appeals, a process that could postpone his execution for years.

The inmate's current and former attorneys won't comment on why Tate, who is 31, won't let them file the appeal. But the transcript from a 2009 hearing in which he waived his right to appeal sheds light on his approach to the process.

"You caught me red-handed," he said during the hearing, when he waived his motion for a new trial. "None of my rights were violated ... I choose to waive any and all future appeals."

His attorneys are now at a crossroads of sorts. They abandoned an attempt to have Tate's brother, Dustin Wade Tate, file an appeal on his behalf last week. And it's unclear if they will file the rounds of last-minute appeals to the Georgia Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court that are typical in these cases.

The only move that's likely to halt the execution is for Tate to file the habeas appeal, and he has given no indication he will do so.

Friends and family of the victims were hopeful the execution would not be delayed. Kellie Young, Chrissie's elder sister, said her family would be disappointed if it were to be postponed by the courts.

"I think justice needs to be served for our family," she said. "And he wants the same thing. Why not go ahead and do it?"

Court records detail how the murder unfolded. Nicholas Tate and two of his younger brothers, Dustin and Chad, purchased ammo, duct tape and knives at a sporting goods store in December 2001 and then plotted to use the weapons to burglarize the home of Chrissie Williams, who they believed had a stash of drugs and money.

When they arrived at the home, Chrissie's 3-year-old daughter Katelyn answered the door, and chaos ensued. The men tried to knock Chrissie out with a stun gun, but when she didn't lose consciousness they taped her mouth and eyes shut and handcuffed her hands to a bed.

They moved Katelyn to another room, where Nicholas Tate removed her pajamas and sexually assaulted her. Nicholas Tate, who prosecutors say was the plot's ringleader, ordered Chad to silence the girl because she recognized him. Chad Tate unsuccessfully tried to strangle her with a telephone cord, and he then used Nicholas' knife to slit her throat.

Dustin Tate fled the house in fear. Nicholas Tate put a seat cushion over Chrissie's head as she lay bound to the bed, firing one shot through the pillow to kill her.

The three brothers then fled Georgia and traveled to Mississippi where they captured a 23-year-old woman from a gas station where she worked and forced her into an SUV. The three later released the woman but kept her car as they sped toward Oklahoma.

The Tate brothers abandoned their weapons at a motel and drove to El Reno, which is about 30 miles outside of Oklahoma City. They then contacted their parents in Dallas, Ga., who helped them negotiate their surrender to police.

Nicholas Tate pleaded guilty to murder charges in November 2005 and was sentenced to death a month later. His brothers also admitted to committing the violence. They are serving life sentences in prison, and Dustin Wade Tate sent the appeal this month on his behalf.

Nicholas Tate filed a motion for a new trial in 2006, but three years later he had a change of heart. That's when he said he wanted to waive all future appeals, and a trial judge accepted his request, noting that he was coherent and articulate.

His attorneys went ahead with a direct appeal, asking the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the sentence. Among the arguments they made was that Tate suffered from an abusive childhood that led him to violence. The court rejected that argument, and so do Williams' relatives.

"Our background wasn't the best either. We came from an abusive family. We were separated, put in foster homes," said Young. "I mean, Chrissie graduated high school. She had her whole life ahead of her."


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