[Deathpenalty]death penalty news---CONN., KY., ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Dec 8 17:44:32 CST 2004
Ross Execution Called State-sponsored Murder----Death-penalty foe speaks
out against 'bad public policy'
If Gov. M. Jodi Rell truly believes that the execution of Michael Ross is
good public policy, then she should "be on site at 2:01 a.m. Jan. 26, 2005
to push the button" to start the chemicals that will kill him flowing in
his veins, a leading opponent of the state's death penalty said Tuesday
In an impassioned speech to students at Trinity College, Robert Nave,
executive director of the Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death
Penalty, said he was calling on the governor to stand behind her decision
to let the execution of Ross go forward rather than delay his execution
until the General Assembly had a chance to reconsider the law.
Rell's statement Monday, in which she said she was "taking emotion out of
the process" of making her decision, was like a "kick in the stomach,"
Nave said, because not only did she then proceed to give nothing but
emotional reasons for her decision - "he deserves it; he committed heinous
crimes" - but she promised to veto any legislation aimed at overturning
the death penalty in Connecticut.
"If it's good public policy, then why isn't the execution at noon?" Nave
asked. "And why isn't it televised?"
Ross, 45, has been sentenced to death for the murder of 4 young women in
the early 1980s - Leslie Shelley and April Brunais, both 14; Robin
Stavinsky, 19; and Wendy Baribeault, 17 - all of whom he kidnapped and 3
of whom he raped. He also is serving 2 life sentences for the rapes and
murders of 2 women in Windham County.
If his execution goes forth as scheduled Jan. 26, it will be the 1st
execution in the state, and New England, since 1960.
Nave said he visits Ross "weekly" in prison and that when he last visited
him on Sunday, Ross was determined to go through with his own execution.
He described Ross as "extremely bright and knowledgeable" but also argued
that Ross is mentally ill. And just as society should not execute those
with mental retardation, he said, neither should it execute the mentally
"It is state-sponsored murder, and in this case it will be helping Michael
Ross commit suicide on January 26th," he said.
Nave repeatedly stressed that he feels no sympathy for Ross or any of the
other inmates on death row, and that his objections to their executions is
based entirely on the fact that it is "bad public policy."
For one thing, he said, it is arbitrary, being both geographically and
racially unfair. In Connecticut, for example, almost all of the men on
death row are there for murdering white people.
"A black life or a Latino life is nowhere near as important as a white
life," he said.
Also, 5 out of the 7 inmates on death row were convicted in Waterbury,
simply because the prosecutor there is more aggressive than others in the
state, Nave said. "So don't commit murder in Waterbury," he said.
Furthermore, Nave said, the death penalty is not a deterrent. It has done
nothing to deter murders in Texas, for example, which executes inmates on
a regular basis. When President Bush was governor of Texas, Nave said, he
presided over 152 executions, more than any governor in the nation's
history. And yet the murder rate in Texas has increased over the past 10
Ross is scheduled to die by lethal injection, a process in which a series
of three drugs will be injected into his veins. One of the drugs is
illegal for veterinarians to use because its use is considered cruel, Nave
Nor does the death penalty provide closure to families of victims, Nave
"If Michael Ross were sentenced to life without parole, he never would
have been heard from again," and the families of the victims could have
moved on with their lives, "but here we are, 20 years later, and I feel
sympathy for the victim's families," he said.
Nave appealed to the 17 students attending his speech to support his
"I need the support of the people in this room to spread the message," he
said. "This is a grassroots effort."
Nave, a single father, has been working to overturn the death penalty in
Connecticut for several years, both as a representative of Amnesty
International and with the Connecticut Network. He described how difficult
it has been to explain to his sons, 12 and 14, that the state is going to
"take the life of one of its citizens."
"Where do we stop?" he asked. "Why not kill drunk drivers who kill people?
They got on the road, they knew what they were doing. They've committed
murder, but we say, 'They were drunk.'"
(source: The Day)
Doctor, Reread Your Oath
A physician is a member of a profession "dedicated to preserving life when
there is hope of doing so." That's from the American Medical Assn.'s Code
of Medical Ethics. The recent reports of physician participation in
prisoner torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are shockingly reminiscent
of Nazi doctors' flagrant violations of the codes of their profession. But
there is another case worth examining, closer to home.
On Nov. 8, Kentucky Gov. Ernest S. Fletcher signed a death warrant for
convicted murderer Thomas Clyde Bowling, an order later temporarily stayed
until the Kentucky courts had more time to consider the issues presented
to them. Evidence had been offered that Bowling, who killed 2 people in
1990, was mentally retarded.
A pending execution always prompts expressions of dismay and calls by
anti-death penalty groups for commutation of the sentence, as well as
approval by death penalty supporters.
In this instance, however, Fletcher's action elicited more than the usual
reactions from death penalty opponents because the governor is a licensed
Objections flooded his office, and complaints were filed with the Kentucky
Board of Medical Licensure, charging him with violating the AMA's ethics
code and Kentucky law. The licensure board is expected to consider the
matter in January.
The code of the AMA, and of almost every national and international
health-related organization, states that physician participation in
executions is prohibited. Originally formulated in 1980 and updated in
2000, the AMA principle is clear: A physician should not be a participant
in a legally authorized execution, and it defines participation to include
an action that could automatically cause an execution to be carried out on
a condemned prisoner.
In a case in which the method of execution is lethal injection - the
method now used in all 38 states with the death penalty - the code
proscribes any involvement with the procedure, including consulting with
or supervising lethal-injection personnel.
Fletcher, by signing the death warrant, violated not only the AMA code but
Kentucky law as well (KRS 431.220), which echoes the code: No physician
shall be involved in the conduct of an execution except to certify cause
of death provided that the condemned is declared dead by another person.
In March 1994, the American College of Physicians, the AMA, the American
Nursing Assn. and the American Public Health Assn. issued a joint
statement calling for state licensure and discipline boards to treat
participation in executions as grounds for disciplinary proceedings. The
organizations wrote that participation in state executions contradicted
the fundamental role of the healthcare professional as a healer and
Fletcher's legal advisor says the governor did not violate AMA guidelines
or other ethical standards in signing the death warrant. Fletcher's role
under the law is consistent with the roles of judges fulfilling their
legal duty and jurors fulfilling their legal obligations regardless of
their professions, he said.
But I believe that a physician is not freed of his obligation to comply
with his profession's ethical mandates. If Fletcher wanted to forgo that
obligation, he should have surrendered his license when he was elected.
Fletcher will remember, I'm sure, the day he graduated from the University
of Kentucky College of Medicine and, like generations of medical students
before him and since, took the sacred Hippocratic Oath. And he will recall
in that oath the statement, "I will not give a fatal draught (drug) to
anyone if I am asked, nor will I suggest any such thing." And, finally, he
will of course recall the famous Hippocratic injunction: "Above all, do no
(source: Commentary -- Arthur Zitrin is a professor emeritus of psychiatry
at the NYU School of Medicine; Los Angeles Times)
Agents framed him, attorney says
Steven Manning, who was freed following nearly 14 years in prison after
separate convictions for murder and kidnapping were overturned, was framed
by 2 FBI agents who invented evidence and manipulated witnesses, an
attorney for Manning alleged Tuesday.
In opening remarks to a federal jury at a trial stemming from Manning's
lawsuit, attorney Jon Loevy contended the case was about "abuse of
government power" and suggested that the FBI had retaliated after Manning
quit as an informant in 1986.
But Assistant U.S. Atty. Jonathan Haile, representing Special Agents
Robert Buchan and Gary Miller, maintained that Manning's convictions were
overturned because of mistakes made at trials by prosecutors and judges,
Haile also told jurors there was no evidence that the two agents had a
personal vendetta against Manning, a former police officer.
Manning took the witness stand later Tuesday and testified about the
trauma he suffered when he said as many as 30 FBI agents, some toting
automatic weapons, arrested him in 1990 on charges of kidnapping two drug
dealers in Missouri.
"I thought I was going to be killed," said Manning, recounting the scene
as his car pulled out from the garage at his condominium in Arlington
Heights. "I relive this constantly."
While Manning was held in Cook County Jail, authorities used Tommy
Dye--described by Loevy as being from "the Hall of Fame of jailhouse
snitches"--to try to get Manning to confess to the kidnapping as well as
to the 1990 murder of James Pellegrino in Cook County.
Dye, who wore a hidden recorder, claimed that Manning admitted killing
Pellegrino, the owner of a trucking firm, during a 2-second inaudible gap
in the recording.
But in a recent deposition for this lawsuit, Dye refused to answer when
asked if he had told the truth about Manning's confession during the
inaudible portion, citing his 5th Amendment right against
self-incrimination, Loevy said.
In the deposition, Dye also alleged for the 1st time that the FBI allowed
him to have sex in its office in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse "to keep him
interested in the project," Loevy said.
In addition, Dye has charged that the FBI paid him more than $40,000 in
connection with his cooperation against Manning, about $8,000 more than
had been disclosed to attorneys at the time, Loevy said.
Haile contended that Loevy wants it both ways with Dye--calling him an
unreliable con man but now relying on his recent sworn statements as
Haile also defended the 2 agents' investigative tactics, pointing out that
they had Dye wear a wire in hopes of corroborating his claims.
"They did that because they were trying to find the truth," Haile said.
Haile also questioned why Buchan and Miller would risk losing "their honor
and dignity" by manufacturing false evidence against someone they hadn't
Manning testified that a 3rd FBI agent had gone "ballistic" when Manning
quit as an informant one day after a man he was giving information to the
FBI about was murdered. Manning called Dye's claim he confessed during the
2-second inaudible gap "an absolute fabrication."
Manning also testified that when he was moved to a Missouri jail on the
kidnapping charge he was held in solitary confinement for 5 to 6 months in
a small concrete-encased cell.
"It's designed to drive you crazy," he said. "It's beyond your
(source: Chicago Tribune)
Ex-cop testifies against FBI agents in frameup case
Onetime Chicago Police officer and freed death row inmate Steve Manning
said he'll never forget the day in June 1990 when law enforcement
surrounded him at his Arlington Heights condo, weapons drawn.
Manning said he was stunned and humiliated to be told to drop to the
ground and, before his neighbors, crawl backwards for at least 50 yards.
That was the day Manning was arrested on charges he took part in a 1984
kidnapping of 2 Kansas City drug dealers. His conviction in that case was
But the day of his arrest tailspinned into a series of events that would
forever change his life and were far worse "than anyone in this courtroom
can imagine," including doing 14 years in violent, repressive prison
conditions, Manning testified before a federal jury Tuesday.
4 accused of frameup
Manning's statements came on the opening day of trial against FBI agents
Robert Buchan, Gary Miller and John O'Rourke, and FBI informant Tommy Dye.
Manning, 54, alleges all 4 framed him.
He claims agents fabricated and withheld evidence while recruiting, paying
and feeding information to jailhouse snitches to testify against him,
including the often-used snitch Dye.
Dye claimed Manning confessed to killing trucking firm owner James
Pellegrino. Pellegrino was shot and his body was dumped in the Des Plaines
Manning spent 14 years in prison, some of the time in solitary
confinement. He was cleared from Illinois death row in 2000. In February,
he was released from Missouri prison, where he was sent to serve a
200-year sentence for the kidnappings.
"The damages have been profound," Manning's attorney, Jon Loevy, said of
Manning trying to rebuild his life.
Manning lost everything, including his girlfriend, his possessions and all
his money after he was locked up, Loevy said.
FBI turned on him, he says
In a complicated tale of Manning's run-ins with the FBI, Loevy told jurors
how Manning worked as an FBI informant and, after helping solve a case, a
defendant turned up murdered. When Manning told an FBI agent he didn't
want to continue informing because of the dangers, the FBI agent allegedly
retaliated, Manning claims.
Loevy admitted Manning wasn't without fault -- he was cooperating with the
feds after he pleaded guilty to a burglary he took part in while he was a
police officer. He also admitted to arranging with Dye for a fake alibi
for a murder he said he didn't commit.
Loevy also said the FBI didn't disclose that Dye was getting paid and was
allowed conjugal visits and other special privileges in prison.
Attorney Jonathan Haile, representing the FBI agents, said Manning's
convictions were overturned because evidence was thrown out by higher
courts -- not because something like DNA evidence exonerated him.
"We think it's very possible you will think Mr. Manning is guilty of these
2 crimes," Haile said.
Haile said FBI agents investigated Manning after receiving information
that linked him to the crimes. He said framing someone is a "huge
allegation" and asked why veteran FBI agents would put their careers on
the line to do it.
(ource: Chicago Sun-Times)
More information about the DeathPenalty