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