MYRTLE BEACH — A U.S. District Court judge has granted a motion to delay the execution of convicted murderer James Nathaniel Bryant, who is sentenced to death for the slaying of an Horry County police officer.
Bryant, 41, was convicted twice and sentenced to death in the June 2000 beating and shooting death of Horry County police Cpl. Dennis Lyden.
Execution for Bryant was set for Feb. 1, but he appealed to the U.S. District Court, where Judge Cameron McGowan Currie earlier this month granted his Bryant’s motion for a stay of execution, giving him until October to file a writ of certiorari.
In his order Currie wrote that Bryant’s execution must be postponed because the court would not have sufficient time to address his pleadings.
Lyden was killed after he told dispatchers he was stopping a suspicious vehicle at Deal Maker’s Auto Sales on S.C. 544.
Area neighbors called 911 after hearing a gunshot near where the 44-year-old officer made the stop. Responding officers found the five-year department veteran dead at the scene and conducted a massive search for suspects.
Bryant of Longs was arrested a day later and eventually convicted and sentenced to death in 2001 for beating and shooting Lyden.
On appeal, the state Supreme Court overturned that conviction saying the trial was unfair because county police working for the solicitor’s office worked on investigations of possible jurors.
In 2004, a second jury again found Bryant guilty and sentenced him to death.
In 2007, the state Supreme Court affirmed Bryant’s conviction and sentence, so he filed a writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court. But that was denied.
Bryant then filed for post-conviction relief, but was denied in 2010. Bryant appealed but was denied so an execution notice was filed by the Horry County Clerk’s office.
Bryant filed his motion for a stay of execution and seeks the appointment of attorneys to help him submit his pleadings in U.S. District Court.
Bryant is being held on death row at Lieber Correctional Institute.
Contact TONYA ROOT at 444-1723 or follow her at Twitter.com/tonyaroot.