Sept. 16


Justice and the death penalty

The key issue in the death penalty is justice. All men are created equal and man???s innate, God-given human right to self-preservation is the citizen's civil right to self-defense in equal justice

The death penalty is the sentence for murder in the 1st degree, for premeditated homicide with malice aforethought, for laying in wait for, planning and executing another legally innocent human being ... premeditated murder.

Capital punishment is enacted through the power of attorney of the condemned murderer. As a citizen of the state, the murderer is brought to justice by his own citizenship in the state and by his own justice.

All men have an innate human right to self-preservation and a civil right to self-defense. The prison guards, the warden, the contractors are all in double jeopardy while a murderer lives. All people are in double jeopardy of life. The first jeopardy was before the crime was committed in bloodlust. The second jeopardy is now as the murderer lives.

Mary De Voe


(source: Letter to the Editor, The News Journal)


Man accused in priest's murder pleads not guilty----Steven Murray faces murder charge in death of Father Rene Robert

The man accused of killing a St. Augustine priest in April pleaded not guilty Friday to malice murder in Burke County, Georgia.

Prosecutors have filed notice that they will seek the death penalty against Steven Murray in the death of Father Rene Robert.

Motions hearings in the case will begin Dec. 2, but the District Attorney's Office said it doesn't expect a trial for at least 2 years.

Murray, 28, led deputies to Robert's body in April in a wooded area of Burke County on State Road 56, after the priest had been missing for a week.

Investigators said Murray kidnapped Robert, who had been helping Murray after his release from prison, and drove the priest to northeast Georgia, where he shot him.

Robert, 71, was last seen April 10 and was reported missing after a funeral the next day. His car was found crashed into a tree in Aiken, South Carolina, and Murray was arrested nearby. He was extradited to St. Johns County on charges of aggravated fleeing and attempting to elude law enforcement.

He was sent back to Georgia after the malice murder charge was filed against him.

Priest was against death penalty

Those closest to Robert said the death penalty is not what the priest would have wanted for Murray.

He even wrote a letter 20 years ago addressing this exact situation.

"Father Rene was strongly opposed to capital punishment and left in his files, written 20 some years ago, the important letter in which he says that if anyone should do me harm in the future and that person is facing judgment, I do not want in my name, the capital punishment death sentence," said Father John Gillespie of San Sebastian Catholic Church.

Gillespie, who served with Robert in St. Augustine, said that doesn???t mean Murray shouldn't be punished, just that his life shouldn't be taken in Robert's name.

Amy Law, 1 of the people who alerted police to Robert's disappearance, said she wants justice for Robert.

"(Murray) will get what he deserves. Hopefully, he will get what he deserves," Law said.

Murray moved around

Murray has been moved to several jails because of suicide attempts and damage he caused to a jail.

Murray was initially moved to Jefferson County after he tried to hang himself using a bed sheet, Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey said.

Coursey told WRDW that Murray was put on suicide watch and Jefferson County Jail's facilities are better prepared for suicidal inmates.

While he was in the Jefferson County Jail, Murray damaged a sprinkler head, flooding his holding cell, Coursey said in a statement released Monday. WRDW reports that the damage was less than $150 and will be covered by Jefferson County.

Murray also pulled a metal drain pipe connected to the toilet loose, Coursey said.

The Georgia Sheriff's Association told WRDW that after Murray was returned to its jail, Burke County called asking for help to find another facility for him.

GSA suggested Clayton County and Sheriff Victor Hill agreed to the transfer.

While in the Clayton County Jail, Murray again attempted suicide by trying to hang himself, according to a report from WRDW.



Nov. 3 execution date set for Tommy Arthur in '82 Muscle Shoals murder

The Alabama Supreme Court has set execution dates for 2 state inmates, including Tommy Arthur in a 1982 Muscle Shoals slaying.

Arthur is scheduled to be executed on Nov. 3. Arthur was convicted of the murder-for-hire of a Muscle Shoals man. This is the 7th time an execution date has been set for Arthur in his more than 3 decades on death row.

Ronald Bert Smith Jr. is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 8. Smith was convicted in the 1994 robbery and slaying of a Huntsville convenience store clerk.

Alabama is seeking to resume executions after a more than 2-year lull as the state faced a scarcity of lethal injection drugs and ongoing litigation over the death penalty.

The state in January carried out its 1st execution since 2013.

An appellate court in May halted the execution of Vernon Madison just hours before he was scheduled to be put to death.

Arthur was sentenced to death in 1983 for the Feb. 1, 1982, contract killing and robbery of Troy Wicker Jr. in Muscle Shoals.

On the day of the murder, authorities said, Arthur walked away from a work release program in Decatur and drove to Muscle Shoals.

Arthur was in the Decatur facility because he was convicted in the 1977 shooting death of a woman in Marion County, according to a 2007 Florence TimesDaily story in which authorities said Arthur was tied to at least 4 shootings.

Another shooting involved a Colbert County guard when Arthur broke out of the jail in 1986, shortly before the scheduled retrial in Troy Wicker's shooting.

The guard survived a gunshot wound to the neck.

(source: Times Daily)


Judge in death penalty case has jurors sign media waiver

All 12 jurors and 6 alternate jurors were asked to sign a pledge stating they would not watch television, read newspapers, read online news articles or consume other forms of media regarding a Dayton death penalty case Friday.

The pledge, orchestrated by the judge in the trial, Judge Steven Dankof, is an unusual move, as many jurors are asked verbally not to consume media during higher-profile cases and it's left at that.

Opening statements in the Harvey Jones case began Friday.

The double-murder suspect is accused of killing 29-year-old Demetrius Beckwith and 32-year-old Carly Hughley in January 2013. Harvey is believed to be Hughley's ex-boyfriend.

It happened the morning of Jan. 24, 2013 at the Catalpa Crossing Apartments on Turner Road in Harrison Township. Hughley's then-10-year-old son was in the apartment when the shootings took place and ran to a neighbor's house to get help.

The now-14-year-old boy is expected to testify, as he was the sole person to witness Harvey pull the trigger, deputies say.

Harvey was initially indicted on charges of murder, kidnapping and robbery charges.

Jury selection in the trial began Monday.

(source: WDTN news)


Suspect in Oklahoma rancher's slaying expected to plead guilty

A man who faces the death penalty if convicted for the shooting death of a Cherokee County rancher is expected to plead guilty instead of taking his chances with a jury in a 1st-degree murder trial.

Paul Newberry, 25, of Park Hill, Okla., hinted that he might be ready to seek a plea deal with the hope of taking the death penalty option off the table. Newberry is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. Thursday before a judge in Cherokee County District Court to announce his decision.

"I anticipate that Newberry will enter a plea," Assistant District 27 Attorney Jack Thorp said Thursday after the accused appeared in court. "I can't get much more into it than that."

Newberry is suspected of fatally shooting Charley Kirk, 88, on July 27, 2015, during what prosecutors have described as a home invasion gone awry. Cheyenne Watts, 23, also faces a murder charge in connection with Kirk's death.

The 2 are accused of breaking into Kirk's home and then shooting him to death when the rancher confronted them. After ransacking the home - reportedly overlooking a safe that reportedly contained $186,000 - the 2 are believed to have stolen a handgun, a sawed-off shotgun, a German-style Luger, a Kawasaki Mule, batteries, a frozen pizza, Kirk's wallet and a pair of binoculars.

Kirk was shot 16 times during the melee. The bullets, according to a preliminary report previously presented by the medical examiner's office, struck Kirk in the head, neck, torso and his extremities.

Prosecutors charged both Newberry and Watts with 1st-degree murder, robbery with a weapon, 1st-degree burglary, attempted 1st-degree arson, larceny of an automobile and 3rd-degree arson.

Investigators say they found evidence of an attempted arson at Kirk's home, and the Kawasaki Mule reportedly was found burned at a location near Keys High School. The 2 men were arrested later at a casino in Pittsburg County.

A jury trial for Watts is expected to begin in mid January, according to court records.



Public hearings next month on death penalty ballot issue

Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale has scheduled public hearings concerning the death penalty issue that will appear on the November ballot. By state law, the hearings are required to be held in each of Nebraska's congressional districts whenever a petition issue is on the general election ballot.

Referendum No. 426 will ask voters to either retain or repeal Legislative Bill 268. In 2015, state lawmakers voted in favor of LB 268, which abolished the death penalty and also set a maximum penalty for a 1st-degree murder conviction at life in prison.

The hearings are moderated by Gale and anyone is welcome to testify or just attend and listen. "This is more than an informal town hall meeting. All comments become part of a permanent record on the issue. The purpose of the public hearings is to help educate citizens and the media through a meaningful exchange of views on the subject prior to the general election. In this case, voting to either retain or repeal doesn't apply to the death penalty itself. Rather, voters are being asked to decide whether to repeal LB 268, thereby reinstating the death penalty."

1 of the hearings will be held in Omaha at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 11th at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center (rooms 201, 205 & 209) on the UNO campus.

Hearings will also be held on the UNK campus in Kearney on October 13th and at the State Capitol in Lincoln on October 18th.

(source: WOWT news)


California voters oppose ending state's death penalty

More than 1/2 of voters oppose a November ballot measure that would abolish the California death penalty, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted by SurveyMonkey.

Proposition 62, which would replace capital punishment with life without parole, had 40% support among the 1,909 registered voters polled in September across the state. 9 % had no answer.

It is 1 of 2 measures on the future of the death penalty that voters will weigh on Nov. 8. Both capital punishment initiatives would require current death row inmates to work and pay restitution to victims but take opposing approaches to what the measures both call a broken system.

Proposition 66 would keep the death penalty, limiting the number of petitions prisoners can file to challenge their convictions and sentences, and providing new deadlines intended to expedite appeals.

The poll only surveyed on Prop. 62, which has garnered some high-profile supporters, including California billionaire Tom Steyer and Former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter.

A campaign to defeat Prop. 62 and support Prop. 66 has wide support from law enforcement officials across California.

Jacob Hay, a spokesman for the campaign in favor of the measure, disputed the results, saying internal polling using the full ballot language - including its fiscal impact - showed Prop. 62 in the lead.

"Voters move quickly towards Prop. 62 when they learn about the $150 million in annual savings Prop. 62 brings and how it guarantees California never executes an innocent person," Hay said. "Prop. 62 is the only real solution to a failed system that has cost $384 million per execution, delivers no crime prevention benefits, and is an empty promise to victims' families."

Sacramento County Dist. Atty. Anne Marie Schubert, a Prop. 66 supporter, disagreed. "This poll is consistent with what we see in other polls that show Californians support the death penalty but they want it fixed, and this is what Prop. 66 does," she said.

(source: Los Angeles Times)


California's Death Row

Each week, the editor's of LA Progressive pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader's thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week's pithy response comes from Nicholas C. Arguimbau, commenting on "Californians' Looming Life-Or-Death Decision" by Ernest Canning.

6 of the 746 men on California's death row were once clients of mine. 4 of the 6 have sat in prison waiting an outcome to their unending cases over 30 years or more. The people who are executed are a generation older and wiser than the people who we arrested.

I worked for 20 years on appeals from death sentences in California. I have great respect for all the men I represented, because the lives they led up to the point of an alleged killing were so uniformly terrifying that all you can say to yourself is "There but the grace of God go you or I." Capital murder is not normal behavior, and something abnormal led to it - generally mental illness or the sort of severe abuse as children that beat all the humanity out of them.

The only men on death row who have not been the subjects of severe abuse or mental illness are generally innocent. When the system is working, the jury will have come to understand that the individual deserves to be acquitted or has suffered mitigating circumstances that point to a lesser punishment than death by the terms of California's death penalty statute. That that has not happened to the 746 men on death row is almost always the result of some miscarriage of justice such as concealment of evidence by the prosecution or incompetence of the defense. So there is virtually no death row inmate who would be there had the law operated as intended.

But the irony of it all is that the great majority of death row inmates quote Patrick Henry in substance: "Give me liberty or give me death". They have come from backgrounds where life is grimly cheap, and they can stand the thought of capital punishment. Life without the possibility of parole, on the other hand, is an unbelievably terrifying sentence. It means being placed in a cold concrete prison hundreds of miles from the people you once knew, where the jailkeepers have an insatiable lust for cruelty, where there is no such thing as rehabilitation, and where you will live for decades without hope. So execution, relief from a nightmarish life is nowhere as terrifying to these men as life without parole.

So California will be well rid of capital punishment if that is what the voters choose.

Nicholas C. Arguimbau



Decision on death penalty in Moneytree cases delayed again

A Selah man charged with killing two women outside a Yakima payday lending business in March could find out today if he'll face a possible death sentence if he's convicted.

Manuel Enrique Verduzco is expected to appear in Yakima County Superior Court at 9 a.m., where prosecutors are expected to tell Judge Michael McCarthy if they have decided to seek the death penalty in the March 26 homicides.

Verduzco is charged with 2 counts of aggravated 1st-degree murder in the deaths of Karina Morales-Gonzalez and Martina Martinez.

Morales-Gonzalez, 27, of Toppenish, and Martinez, 30, of Yakima, were opening the Moneytree at the corner of South First and East Walnut streets when each was shot once in the head, authorities say.

Verduzco once worked at the business.

Under the aggravated murder charge, Verduzco would face either life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty if convicted.

The hearing for prosecutors to decide which penalty to seek has been delayed twice in order to obtain more information.

(source: Yakima Herald)


WikiLeaks' Julian Assange fails to overturn arrest warrant----WikiLeaks founder could face death penalty

The arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on allegations of rape still stands, a Swedish appeals court announced Friday.

Swedish prosecutors issued the warrant for Assange, 45, in August 2010 based on allegations of sexual assault by 2 female WikiLeaks volunteers in the country and have for years sought his extradition.

He has been holed up inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. Ecuador granted Assange political asylum after he said he feared an extradition to Sweden could lead to another extradition to the United States, where he could face the death penalty if he is charged and convicted of publishing government secrets through WikiLeaks.

Ecuador said last month it would allow an interrogation of Assange, which is now scheduled to take place October 17.

'Risk he will evade legal proceedings'

The order from the Swedish appeals court said that Assange "is still detained in absentia," adding that it "shares the assessment of the (lower) district court that Julian Assange is still suspected on probable cause of rape... and that there is a risk that he will evade legal proceedings or a penalty."

It was the 8th time the European arrest warrant has been tested in a Swedish court, with all 7 previous judgments also having gone against Assange.

WikiLeaks tweeted a statement from Assange's legal team Friday after the decision, saying their client was "disappointed."

"Mr. Assange will appeal the decision and remains confident that his indefinite and unlawful detention will cease and that those responsible will be brought to justice," the statement said.

The decision comes a day after WikiLeaks released medical records claiming that Assange's mental health would be adversely affected if he remained holed up in the embassy.

"Mr. Assange's mental health is highly likely to deteriorate over time if he remains in his current situation ... It is urgent that his current circumstances are resolved as quickly as possible," said a report published by the organization on Twitter.

A 27-page medical analysis, which was attributed to an unnamed "trauma and psychosocial expert" in London and dated December 11, 2015 was published alongside supporting documentation.

Assange's legal team has intensified its calls for Sweden to adhere to a non-binding opinion by the United Nations working group on arbitrary detention, which stated in February that their client's confinement in the embassy should be considered as arbitrary detention enforced by Sweden and Britain.

Exchange offered

On Thursday, Assange said he would agree to serve prison time in the United States in exchange for President Barack Obama granting clemency to imprisoned former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, the group's Twitter account said .

"If Obama grants Manning clemency, Assange will agree to US prison in exchange -- despite its clear unlawfulness," the group said.

Assange attorney Barry Pollack told CNN Thursday the deal would have to include a pardon for Manning, who was convicted in 2013 of stealing and disseminating 750,000 pages of documents and videos to WikiLeaks in what has been described as the largest leak of classified material in US history. Manning was found guilty of 20 of the 22 charges against her, including violations of the US Espionage Act.

Thursday's tweet offering the deal was posted along with a letter from Pollack addressed to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that pressed the Department of Justice to provide information about its ongoing criminal investigation into his client.

Pollack argued in the letter, which was written last month, that over the course of the investigation into Assange, which is in its sixth year, the Justice Department "revised the department's regulations with respect to obtaining evidence from and charging members of the news media."

Pollack also said "the department publicly announced it was closing its criminal investigation of the handling of classified information by Hillary Clinton," as another development that justifies more transparency into the case against Assange.

The Justice Department told CNN it was unaware of any deal being offered by Assange or his representatives. An official with the US Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, where he would be prosecuted, had no comment.

(source: CNN)

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