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Court motion could speed Thanos' execution


John Frederick Thanos, the convicted killer who has said he doesn't want to appeal his three death sentences any further, should be brought into court and asked to waive all appeals on the record.

That's the essence of a motion filed yesterday in Garrett County Circuit Court by the attorney general's office and the Baltimore County state's attorney's office.

"If he has stated he doesn't want to do it, why wait?" said S. Ann Brobst, an assistant state's attorney.

Should Thanos officially waive any right to appeal his death sentences further, he could be executed in four to eight weeks, said Gary E. Bair, chief of the criminal appeals division of the attorney general's office.

If that happens, Thanos could become the first person executed in Maryland since 1961. He was convicted of killing an 18-year-old Eastern Shore welder and two Baltimore County teen-agers during a weeklong crime spree in August and September 1990.

He has said repeatedly he is guilty and didn't want to pursue any appeals. He also made his wishes known in an April 1992 letter to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, in which he told the governor that once his two mandatory appeals to the Court of Appeals were complete, "You sign that death warrant."

Thanos was convicted in January 1992 of robbing and killing Billy Winebrenner, 16, and his girlfriend, Melody Pistorio, 14, during a Labor Day holdup in 1990 at the Big Red gasoline station in the 9000 block of Pulaski Highway. Judge Fred A. Thayer sentenced Thanos to death for those murders.

In March 1992, St. Mary's County Circuit Judge Marvin S. Kaminetz sentenced Thanos to death for killing Gregory A. Taylor Jr., 18, a welder from Hebron.

The Court of Appeals reviewed both cases and upheld the death sentences.

Last week, Thanos failed to file an appeal to the U. S. Supreme Court for the St. Mary's County death sentence. He has 240 days to file a post-conviction petition in that case.

Mr. Bair said his office wrote to Judge Kaminetz, asking that Thanos be brought in to waive a post-conviction appeal in that case. The judge has not acted on the request, he said.

Thanos has until September to file an appeal with the Supreme Court in the Garrett County case. After that, he will have 240 days to file a post-conviction appeal, said Mr. Bair.

"Right now," Mr. Bair said, Thanos "has said in a letter to the governor, he doesn't want to pursue his appeals. Our thought is we want to have something in open court and on the record. Then there will be no reason not to go forward with" the execution.

Stephen Harris, the public defender for Maryland, yesterday refused to comment on the state's motion, saying, "I can't tell you what I would do, because I haven't seen it."

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