Condemned killer Henry Lee Lucas may owe a note of thanks to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
Lucas' extradition from Texas' death row to Florida to stand trial for murder is being delayed because the state's chief investigator has been sent to Saudi Arabia with a military reserve unit taking part in Operation Desert Shield.Lucas, 54, is under a death sentence in Texas for the 1979 murder of an unidentified female hitchhiker. He was to have been executed Monday, but won a stay from a state court.
Lucas has claimed responsibility for more than 4,000 crimes committed over several years as he traveled across the country. He since has recanted all his confessions, but law enforcement agencies in various states have attributed more than 250 murders to him, including two in Utah.
Florida has been trying to extradite Lucas for more than a year to stand trial in three slayings. A state appeals court cleared legal impediments to the move in July, when it rejected Lucas' appeal of extradition proceedings and ordered him turned over to Florida authorities.
But Florida officials did not immediately act on the extradition and less than a month later, Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait and President Bush ordered U.S. troops to the Middle East.
Chief investigator Joe Mitchell of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement was among military reservists called to active duty and later sent to Saudi Arabia. His absence apparently has stalled further extradition efforts.