White supremacist set to be executed for 1994 murder

Associated Press/April 13, 2009

A white supremacist convicted of shooting to death one of his followers after he failed to burn down a house in Athens is scheduled to be executed later this month.

William Mark Mize is to be put to death by injection on April 28 at 7 p.m., the state Attorney General's Office said Monday. He would be the second person in Georgia to be executed this year.

Mize, who is 52, was convicted in Oconee County Superior Court for the 1994 murder of Eddie Tucker, who was shot at close range three times after he failed to burn down a house Mize considered a crack house in nearby Athens.

Tucker was a prospective member of the National Vastilian Aryan Party, a white supremacist group that prosecutors compare to the Ku Klux Klan. It was led by Mize, authorities say, and Tucker had filled out an application to join the group but was not yet a full member.

Mize ordered Tucker and another supporter, Chris Hattrup, to set the house on fire the night of Oct. 15, 1994, and they stopped at a local convenience store to buy a can of lighter fluid, according to court records. But the two failed to successfully light the house on fire.

When Mize learned about the failed mission, he told Hattrup "you know what we have to do," according to testimony. Prosecutors say he and Hattrup soon led the 34-year-old Tucker into the woods, where Hattrup shot him in the back and chest. Mize, they say, killed him with a shot to the head.

Police found the body a few days later, and police soon arrested Mize and several other group members involved in the death. One of the witnesses, Mize's girlfriend, agreed to testify against him and her charges were dropped. Mize was convicted on December 12, 1995, of murder and was sentenced to death a day later.

Hattrup, meanwhile, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life with no parole eligibility for 20 years.

In a string of unsuccessful state and federal appeals, Mize claimed there wasn't enough evidence to prove he had fired the shot and that prosecutors withheld evidence from a pretrial interview with a key witness.

He also complained that the state introduced "inflammatory, irrelevant evidence" about Mize's racist beliefs to prejudice the jury. The panel was shown photographs of items seized from Mize's home, including a KKK belt buckle and a racist poster.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that while evidence concerning a defendant's political or racial beliefs is normally irrelevant, the evidence was accepted because it explained Mize's motive for the murder "and his bent of mind."

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in July 2008 rejected Mize's appeal and the U.S. Supreme Court in March decided against hearing the case.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.