Updated: Monday, December 18, 2017 9:35 am EST
Michael Pruitt was scheduled to be executed at 7 pm EST, on Friday, December 29, 2017, at the State Correctional Institute Rockview, in Rockview, Pennsylvania. His execution has been stayed. Fifty-three-year-old Michael is convicted of the rape and murder of 69-year-old Greta Gougler on September 28, 2002, in Reading, Pennsylvania. Michael has spent the last 12 years of his life on Pennsylvania’s death row.
Michael's execution has been stayed by the US District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania. The reason for his stay was not stated.
Michael dropped out of Reading High School after the 10th grade. He struggled to hold down a job and had two children. He had previously been arrested at least 11 times on several different charges including assault, rape, burglary, and interim dating witnesses.
On September 28, 2002, Michael Pruitt observed Greta Gougler, a longtime Sunday school teacher, outside her home. When she entered her home, Pruitt followed. Inside, Pruitt beat Greta, raped her, and strangled her to death. Pruitt then robbed the home before fleeing the scene.
After Pruitt was arrested, he confessed to the murder, but denied the rape allegation. DNA testing later proved that Pruitt had raped Greta.
During his trial, Pruitt alleged that he was high on cocaine at the time of the attack, however there was no evidence to verify the allegation. Pruitt’s attorneys further alleged that Pruitt was mentally incompetent and could not stand trial.
Michael Pruitt’s notice of execution was issued by Department of Corrections Secretary John Wentzel, as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has refused to sign any execution warrants. If the Governor does not sign an execution notice within a specified time frame, state law requires the corrections secretary to issue the execution notice.
Michael’s execution has not yet been stayed, but is unlikely to be carried out. On Friday, February 13, 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a moratorium on executions in the state, until he receives and reviews a report on capital punishment in the state, a report which was ordered in 2011. In his announcement, he called the death penalty in Pennsylvania a "flawed system," "ineffective," "unjust," and "expensive." Read more about the announcement here.
Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Greta. Please pray for strength for the family of Michael. Please pray that if Michael is innocent, lacks the competency to be executed, or should not be executed for any other reason, that evidence will be presented prior to his execution. Please pray that Michael may come to find peace through a personal relationship with the Lord, if he has not already.