April 11


Texas 2012 Executions Up, Capital Punishment Declines Globally

According to a new Amnesty International report, the United States can count itself among the top 5 countries in the world that carry out executions.

In this region, the USA has a very dubious distinction. "The only country in the Americas that carried out an execution last year," explained Brian Evans, interim Director of the Death Penalty Abolition Campaign for Amnesty International USA.

The United States carried out a total of 43 executions in 2012, which was the same number carried out in 2011. "In terms of known executions, that puts the United States in 5th place, behind China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and ahead of Yemen," Evans said.

3/4 of all executions in the U.S. occurred in only 4 states: Texas, Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma. In 2011, 13 Texas prisoners were put to death; that number increased last year. Evans said, "Texas had 15 executions, which would put them in 8th place if they were a separate country in the world - between Sudan and Afghanistan."

The number of death sentences carried out in the Lone Star State are expected to be even higher in 2013, with some 12 executions scheduled over the next 4 months. But even those numbers would be down from the record 40 lethal injections performed in the year 2000.

The Amnesty International report sites an overall decline in the use of the death penalty and outright abolition of the punishment in some states. Evans said another contributing factor for fewer death sentences is the expanded use of DNA and juries now receiving the option of handing down sentences of life with the possibility of parole.

Amnesty also noted that Americans are becoming more concerned about the discriminatory application of the death penalty and its possible use on someone who has been wrongfully convicted - with nearly three dozen exonerations occurring in Dallas County alone.

While all executions carried out in the United States were done by lethal injection, other methods for the 682 executions known to have been carried out worldwide included hanging, beheading and firing squad.

(source: CBS News)


'I almost gave up on life'----Men speak out about wrongful convictions

Wrongly convicted men fight for justice: Derrick Jamison and Dale Johnston were wrongly convicted of crimes in the 1980s. Since their release, they've worked to educate the public about the justice system and share their experiences.

A single tear rolling down his aged yet youthful face, Derrick Jamison recalled the moments he lost interest in living.

It was not the minute he was sentenced to death for a crime he did not commit. It was the effect it had on his loved ones.

"My family was there for me from beginning to end, but it took a toll," he said, fighting back tears. "I lost many people. I watched my friends get murdered around me. After I lost my mom and dad, I almost gave up on life. You never get over it."

Jamison, of Cincinnati, was incorrectly identified by a witness to a Cincinnati bartender's murder in 1985. He spent almost 20 years on death row. Then the charges were dismissed in February 2005 after his conviction was overturned 3 years earlier.

He and Dale Johnston, also wrongly convicted of a crime, are part of an Ohioans to Stop Executions and Witness to Innocence tour across the state to talk about their experiences with the criminal justice system. They are 2 of 6 Ohio men who have been exonerated from 1973 to 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center and Witness to Innocence.

Jamison and Johnston spoke Wednesday before a packed Brown Chapel at Muskingum University, eager to impart their lessons on the young minds, hoping for change.

"I hope they see the injustice and wonder how many other people have been treated as cruel as we were," said Johnston, of Logan. "It destroyed us." Johnston's daughter, Annette Cooper, 18, and her boyfriend, Todd Schultz, 19, were murdered in October 1982 in Hocking County. Johnston, who was the only person police considered a suspect, was sentenced to death in 1984.

The Ohio Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 1988 because the prosecution withheld evidence from the defense and because one witness had been hypnotized. All charges were eventually dropped, and he was released in 1990. A book chronicling his experience, "Guilty by Popular Demand," was written by Bill Osinski in 2012.

Johnson still clearly recalls memories from his incarceration - experiences he'll carry for a lifetime.

"We were living in hell," he said, steadying his voice while gazing across the room, as if looking back into his past. "If I treated a dog the way they treated us, I would be arrested. They treated us like we were less than human beings."

During his incarceration, he kept up on current events, reading 5 kinds of newspapers a day - and, of course, checking in on his Buckeyes.

After 7 years behind bars, Johnston said it was not difficult to transition back into the world again.

"The minute I stepped out, I got back to work," he said. "I had to adjust to the real world, but it was not difficult. My family supported me all the way."

Jamison's transition took more effort. He was released in 2005, 20 years after is wrongful conviction. He missed a lot in 2 decades and was unsure of himself.

"I couldn't find a job, and I still don't have a job," he said. "But this is my job, speaking and getting the word out."

(source: Zanesville Times Recorder)


Murder trial to proceed as scheduled; Judge rules againstnew delay in Moore case

After several delays, the murder trial of Michael Moore will go ahead as scheduled, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Moore's attorneys were seeking yet another delay to the trial, slated to begin Aug. 12, after the team's mitigation specialist resigned April 3. The defense filed a motion last week to delay the case until early 2014, saying there was not enough time to get another investigator up to speed by the August trial date.

Moore, 42, is facing the death penalty if convicted of 2 counts of murder of his parents, Warren and Madge Moore, who were shot in their Union home in June 2009.

After hearing arguments Wednesday, Boone Circuit Judge Tony Frohlich began his ruling by listing the 3 prior continuances since the case 1st appeared on his docket in 2010. "If we continue this case again, we're looking at extending this another year," Frohlich said.

"The only problem I have with (the motion) is, if you intend for this person to be a witness, why can't you just subpoena her?" he said. "If she's being asked to serve in an advisory role, why can't you just call and ask her for her advice? That's one of the things lawyers do. We're trying this case on Aug. 12."

Moore's public defender, Joanne Lynch, argued that the lack of a prepared mitigation specialist has been reason to overturn death penalty convictions in the past. A mitigation specialist works primarily on information for the sentencing phase of a trial, but information they uncover can also be important in determining guilt or innocence.

The defense also offered affidavits from other mitigation specialists who said 4 months was not enough time to prepare for the case. Commonwealth's Attorney Linda Tally Smith argued the importance of the position, pointing out the state Department of Public Advocacy lost another mitigation specialist in February it has yet to replace. "If a mitigation specialist is imperative to these trial of these cases, it would seem to be DPA's top priority to fill even the position that was vacated in February. It hasn't been, 2 months later," Smith said.

(source: Cincinnati.com)


Don't consider restoring death penalty in NJ

The death penalty was abolished in New Jersey in 2007 for good reason. It was useless, decades going by without a single execution. Instead, the death penalty merely served to generate an exhaustive and costly appeals process that seemingly never reached a conclusion.

Supporters of capital punishment say the way around that problem is to speed the appeals; or, put another way, provide defendants with fewer opportunities to challenge the sentence. What that does, however, is make it more likely that someone would be unjustly killed for a crime he didn't commit. The state cannot allow that to happen, even if the possibility appears remote; the legal system isn't foolproof, and many innocent people across the nation have been imprisoned, even on death row. They can be freed, eventually, but they can't be resurrected from the grave.

New Jersey's repeal also effectively rejected the notion of capital punishment as a deterrent, and while there have been countless studies offering varied arguments pro and con over many, many years, there is still no compelling evidence that the death penalty works in reducing murders.

So New Jersey got it right when it got rid of the death penalty, for solid, practical reasons. And that's before even getting into the morality of "eye for an eye" justice and the societal value of visceral revenge on a heinous killer.

But some state legislators want to take a step back into a less enlightened era, with bills that would restore the death penalty for certain types of murders, most notably when law enforcement officers are the victims. Asssembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick recently cited the killings of officers in Texas and Colorado as fresh motivation to support existing bills proposing to bring the death penalty back. Bramnick said that when law enforcement officers are murdered, the death penalty is the most "appropriate" punishment.

It's a good thing Bramnick stuck with the theme of societal justice, because the deterrent argument won't get him very far in this case; Texas and Colorado have the death penalty.

We're troubled by the perception that cold-blooded, premeditated murders of certain people matter more than others, that there is somehow a higher level of victim that would justify the death penalty. But we also understand that law enforcement personnel often expose themselves to life-threatening situations as part of their job, and deserve as much protection as can be given.

But the existence of the death penalty won't provide that protection, and the risk of executing an innocent person is undeniable and inescapable. The legislators pushing for the restoration of the death penalty may merely be trying to curry some favor from law enforcement. But that cannot be allowed to outweigh sensible public policy.

(source: Editorial, Daily Record)


Suspect in Fatal Shooting of Virginia Trooper to Be Evaluated

A judge has ordered a man charged with killing a Virginia State Police trooper to undergo an evaluation.

The evaluation is to determine whether Russell E. Brown III, 28, was sane when Master Trooper Junius A. Walker was fatally shot on Interstate 85 in Dinwiddie County on March 14.

According to court documents, Brown told investigators that God made him do it.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Dinwiddie General District Court Judge Mayo K. Gravatt ordered the evaluation earlier this month.

Brown's lawyers haven't yet filed a request for an evaluation to determine his competency to stand trial.

Brown is charged with capital murder, 2 firearms counts and attempted capital murder. Prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

(source: NBC Washington)


Stephen Stone asks if death penalty is an option in murder case

Stephen Marc Stone, the man accused of killing his wife and son in their Huntsville home, is asking whether the death penalty will be an option in his prosecution.

Stone's attorneys filed a motion in Madison County Circuit Court Tuesday asking to be told whether the death penalty will be pursued, stating they need to know in preparation for their case.

Attorneys also filed another motion asking for bond to be set in the case. The judge granted the motion.

Stone is charged with 2 counts of capital murder for the deaths of his wife, Krista, and 7-year-old son Zachery at their home on Chicamauga Trail Feb. 24. Authorities said Krista Stone was strangled, and Zachery was strangled and drowned.

Stone later turned himself in to authorities in Leeds.

(source: WAAY News)


2000 murder appeal begins

A team led by renowned North Carolina death-penalty lawyer Billy Richardson began its arguments Wednesday for the reversal of the 2001 capital murder conviction of Marlon Howell.

"The Mississippi State Supreme Court is always making the statement, 'Death is different,' Innocence Project attorney Will McIntosh told Senior Circuit Judge Samac Richardson. "All we're asking Your Honor to do...is to say the defendant should have a new trial."

Now 33, Howell was found guilty of the May 15, 2000, shooting death of Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal carrier David Parnell in a robbery, and was sentenced to death. 2 co-defendants who pleaded guilty accused Howell of pulling the trigger.

The Mississippi State Supreme Court granted the evidentiary hearing on the basis of 3 complaints - the recanted testimony of an eyewitness, whether Howell had representation at a lineup in which he was identified and alleged exculpatory statements offered by another potential witness.

New Albany Police Chief David Grisham said he had seen attorney Regan Russell nearby and assumed he'd been appointed as Howell's counsel. "I'm testifying that I thought he was there at the lineup," Grisham said. "I know that he was there in the building that day."

Russell and longtime public defender Tom McDonough testified that they had not attended the lineup, although McDonough said he may have been involved in Howell's case briefly.

"Back then, it wasn't that uncommon for the public defenders to be put on the case and then realize they had a conflict," he said.

Booneville attorney Duncan "Bubba" Lott, who had defended Howell pro bono both in trial and in appeal, said he had had no reason to doubt the prosecution's disclosure process but would have called Terkecia Pannell if he had known she had implicated his client - a testimony that she has since recanted.

"We went to trial with no witnesses other than Marlon," Lott said. "Our defense was to attack the state witnesses."

Tupelo private investigator Leonard Sanders testified that eyewitness Charles Rice was not pressured to alter the testimony he'd given during Howell's trial.

Terkecia Pannell James said she was trying to protect then-boyfriend, Brandon Shaw, who was on probation, when she told investigators that she'd seen Howell with a gun. (The handgun believed to be the murder weapon was found outside Shaw's house.)

"At the time, I was young," she said. "As a teenager...we did stupid things."

Pannell-James, now a minister-in-training, said she opposes the death penalty and believes "everybody deserves a 2nd chance."

She testified Wednesday that she'd seen one of Howell's co-defendants with the gun, but on cross-examination she admitted her revised testimony reflected secondhand information.

"I know that, because that's what Brandon told me," she said.

Howell's hearing will continue at 9 a.m. today at the Union County Courthouse.

(source: Digital Journal)


7 jurors seated in Fayetteville death penalty trial

Jury selection is moving along in the capital murder trial of the man accused of raping and killing a 5-year-old Fayetteville girl in 2009.

Mario Andretti McNeill, 32, is charged with kidnapping, rape and murder in the death of Shaniya Davis.

7 jurors - 5 women and 2 men - had been seated by Wednesday morning, meaning 5 more and at least 3 alternates must be selected before testimony can be heard.

Shaniya's body was found in a kudzu patch off N.C. Highway 87 near the Lee-Harnett county line on Nov. 16, 2009, 6 days after her mother, Antoinette Nicole Davis, reported her missing from their mobile home on Sleepy Hollow Drive in Fayetteville.

McNeill on Tuesday rejected a deal that would have spared his life if he agreed to plead guilty in the case. His lawyers say he maintains he didn't kill the girl.

An autopsy determined that Shaniya died of asphyxiation and that injuries she suffered were consistent with a sexual assault. A medical examiner noted in the autopsy that investigators believe the girl was used to pay off a drug debt.

Antoinette Davis is charged with 1st-degree murder, indecent liberties with a child, felony child abuse, felony sexual servitude, rape of a child, sexual offense of a child by an adult offender, human trafficking and making a false police report. She will be tried after McNeill's case is over, and prosecutors aren't seeking the death penalty against her.

(source: WRAL News)


District Attorney: death penalty based on facts, not race

District Attorney Ben David said he welcomes a challenge to prosecutors seeking the death penalty for Quintel Grady, charged in the death of a local college student.

"We think that's an important part to the integrity of the justice system," he said.

The DA's office called for the death penalty when Grady appeared before a judge Tuesday morning. His lawyers said they plan to file motions citing the Racial Justice Act and violations of the U.S. Constitution.

The RJA prevents the court from proceeding with the death penalty.

The next day, David said his office is only focused on the facts.

"Justice is being done, and there is no other motive," David said.

The DA said he does not take the death penalty lightly. A committee of veteran prosecutors review the case, then decide if it is necessary. David said his office has only pursued the death penalty when the evidence calls for it.

"Nothing is harder in the criminal justice system than to stand before your community and ask 12 people to take the life of someone who's sitting 20 feet from them," he said.

Prosecutors have 60 days to share information with the defense and a judge will determine if motions to prevent the death penalty will stand.

(source: WECT News)

DeathPenalty mailing list

Search the Archives: http://www.mail-archive.com/deathpenalty@lists.washlaw.edu/

A free service of WashLaw

Reply via email to