[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----MASS., KAN., CALIF., PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Dec 29 21:10:25 CST 2004
Mass. Governor to File Death Penalty Bill
Hoping to bring capital punishment to Massachusetts, Gov. Mitt Romney is
preparing to file a death penalty bill early next year that he says is so
carefully written it will guarantee only the guilty are executed.
Based in part on the findings of a death penalty panel he appointed, the
bill would limit capital punishment to the "worst of the worst" crimes
including terrorism, the murder of police officers, murder involving
torture and the killing of witnesses. It also would use evidence such as
DNA testing to protect the innocent.
Romney wants his death penalty bill to be a model for other states.
"The weakness in the death penalty statutes in other states, of course, is
the fear that you may execute someone who is innocent. We remove that
possibility," Romney said.
Massachusetts is one of a dozen states without capital punishment. The
bill fulfills one of the Republican governor's key campaign pledges, but
faces a skeptical Democrat-controlled state Legislature.
"I don't believe it's possible to be 100 % certain no matter what you do.
Humans are fallible," said state Rep. Elizabeth Malia, a Democrat.
Rep. Michael Festa, a Democrat, said Romney should focus on crimefighting
tactics that work, like a proposal to support community-based drug
treatment programs. A member of the Criminal Justice Committee, he said he
hopes Romney's death penalty bill makes it to the floor of the House for a
vote - so it can be defeated.
"I think we should stand up as lawmakers and say we don't want this in our
state," he said.
Romney said he based the bill in large part on the recommendations of the
death penalty panel he appointed.
The report called for creation of an independent committee to review all
scientific evidence in a case. It proposes giving defendants in capital
cases better lawyers and the opportunity to face 2 juries, 1 for the
trial, and if convicted, a separate one for sentencing.
It also suggests doing away with the legal standard of guilt "beyond a
reasonable doubt" in a death penalty case, and replacing it with a finding
of "no doubt."
Even Romney concedes that it might take a horrific crime, like the 1997
murder of 10-year-old Jeffrey Curley, to rally support for the bill.
Curley was abducted from a Cambridge street and killed by two men who
later received life sentences. Public outrage fueled calls for a death
penalty bill that passed easily in the state Senate; it was defeated by a
single vote in the House. Since then the margin has grown in the House,
which defeated a death penalty bill 2 years later, 80-73.
(source: Associated Press)
Kline Asks Court to Reconsider Death Penalty Ruling
Attorney General Phill Kline is asking the state Supreme Court to
reconsider its decision striking down the Kansas death penalty law.
The court held the 1994 statute unconstitutional in a 4-to-3 ruling
earlier this month. The decision focused on language spelling out how
juries must weigh evidence for and against a death sentence.
If the evidence is roughly equal, the law says a jury must impose the
death penalty rather than life in prison. The Supreme Court says that
language gives prosecutors an unfair advantage in capital cases.
Kline's office made its request for a new ruling Wednesday, saying the
court could strike the troublesome language but leave the rest of the law
(source: Associated Press)
Death penalty, racial profiling proposals await lawmakers
Abolishing the death penalty, making racial profiling a crime and setting
up government health insurance for all Kansans are among a wide range of
proposals already in the Legislature's in-basket.
Lawmakers have started filing measures in preparation for the 2005
legislative session, which starts Jan. 10.
Most bills in the Kansas Legislature are filed by committee after the
session starts, but some lawmakers say they individually file bills early
because they have strong personal feelings about certain proposals.
Kansas' death penalty leaped to the forefront after the Kansas Supreme
Court earlier this month ruled unconstitutional the state's capital
punishment law, saying the way juries weighed different factors in
sentencing was unfair to the defendant. Atty. Gen. Phill Kline has said he
will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Several lawmakers have indicated the law can be amended during the session
to comply with the court's ruling in future cases, but others have said
the whole issue of the death penalty will be under review, especially
since the state recently established a law that provides life in prison
without the possibility of parole. Since capital punishment was reinstated
in 1994 in Kansas, seven men have been sentenced to die, but none has been
executed as their appeals continue.
State Sen. David Haley, D-Kansas City, has filed a bill that would abolish
the death penalty. He said Monday that he filed it before the state
Supreme Court decision.
He said he was personally opposed to the death penalty, but added that
even some lawmakers who favored it were having second thoughts because of
the high cost of death penalty cases.
"We have to look at how much it is costing these strapped budgets to
prosecute these cases and the appeals," Haley said.
A state audit found the median cost of a case resulting in a death
sentence was $1.2 million, compared with $740,000 in a case in which a
death sentence wasn't pursued.
Prof's artwork speaks against death penalty
UC Davis Professor Malaquias Montoya, a leading figure in the West Coast's
political Chicano graphic arts movement, has published a book of his work
focusing on an unusual and controversial topic - the death penalty.
"Premeditated: Meditations on Capital Punishment, Recent Works by
Malaquias Montoya" is a collection of powerful and disturbing portraits of
the death sentence.
Montoya's charcoal and color sketches, paintings and silk-screen prints
take an up-close look at hanging, electrocution and lethal injection as
well as the killing of innocent and mentally ill prisoners. The artwork is
accompanied by quotes, descriptions, statistics and poetry about the death
Montoya, 66, who teaches art and Chicano studies at UCD, said he wants his
work to raise questions and make people think, "Why do we do this?"
He decided to focus on the death penalty when President George W. Bush was
running for his first term and there was much attention on the state of
Texas, which was executing prisoners almost every month. What started as
one poster developed into a series of pieces, an art show and then a book
on the issue.
"What a horrible thing it is when someone is killed. But then to turn
around and kill someone and call it justice has always sort of boggled my
mind," Montoya said. "How we can legitimately kill someone and say it's
OK, when we as a state sit down and plan a date of execution and confine
them up to that point and then execute them ... I can't think of anything
Montoya said he has talked with victims' parents who oppose the death
penalty because, they say, "it won't bring my daughter back and it takes
away my humanity."
Montoya said he believes society often creates an environment that breeds
criminals through a lack of social services and poor education. And then
people are surprised when someone commits a monstrous crime.
"I think that society allows that and creates that in many respects,"
Montoya said. "It's just this cycle that goes around and around and
Taking a stand
Montoya said he has never been an anti-death-penalty activist, but his
feelings on the issue would rise to the surface every time he heard about
an execution, eventually leading to the death penalty project.
"There's so much going on in the world that not to say anything about it
is to go along with those who condone it," Montoya said.
A show of his work started at the Snite Museum of Art at the University of
Notre Dame in January, then moved to the Mexican Fine Art Museum in
Chicago where it closed in November. Next month, the show will move to
Texas and then on to Los Angeles and likely the Davis area.
Montoya doesn't usually exhibit his work in mainstream galleries because,
he said, the people he wants to reach don't visit those places. But for
the death penalty exhibit, he wanted to reach influential people who could
effect policy changes.
In addition to the death penalty, Montoya's artwork has addressed many
important issues through the years. His work has been used to protest the
Vietnam War, support farmworkers and bring attention to tragedies in South
America and the struggle in Palestine. His works include acrylic
paintings, murals, washes and drawings, but he is primarily known for
silk-screen prints, which have been exhibited nationally and
Montoya is credited by historians as being one of the founders of the
"social serigraphy" movement in the Bay Area during the mid-1960s. His
work not only reflects on life and conditions, but also inspires people to
change their conditions.
>From farmworker to artist
Montoya was born in Albuquerque, N.M., to parents who couldn't read or
write English or Spanish. Montoya was the 2nd-youngest of 7 children in
the family. The three oldest children never went beyond 7th grade because
they had to work to help the family survive.
His family would travel to the San Joaquin Valley in California every
summer to work on the grape harvest - living in tents and train boxcars -
and then back to Albuquerque. In the late 1940s, the family decided to
stay in California, settling in the small city of Parlier near Fresno.
School started in September, but they didn't join the class until the
picking season was over in late October. Arriving late made it difficult
to make friends.
"And you had names like Malaquias that teachers couldn't pronounce," he
On top of that, it was impossible to relate to school book readers with
stories about Dick and Jane, whose lives were nothing like theirs. Many of
the farmworker children, including Montoya, were placed in a separate
class for slow learners.
"All we did was art - just to keep us occupied - and maybe a math problem
every now and then," said Montoya, who enjoyed the class because it was
the only place where he had paper and pencils to draw. He was moved back
into the mainstream class in 4th grade due to his special talents.
Finding his voice
Art became a way to express his emotions. Instead of responding to bullies
on the playground, he would draw caricatures of them back in the
"Art, for me, became a very important thing. It was a way of speaking,"
When his parents divorced in 1952, Montoya and the other children wanted
to quit school to work and help their mother pay the bills, but she
insisted they get an education. After graduating from high school, Montoya
enlisted in the Marines.
"At the time, the military was like the Chicano extension school," Montoya
They joined to learn a trade that could translate to a job after their
service. Montoya was a radio operator, traveling to Japan, the Philippines
and Taiwan for war-training exercises. After three years, he decided not
to re-enlist. He went back to working in the fields and signed up for
classes at Reedley College.
Then Montoya moved to Oakland to live with his brother Jose's family. Jose
- who was later named Sacramento's poet laureate in 2002-03 - was
attending the California College of Arts and Crafts. While in Oakland,
Montoya worked at the Continental canning company. After being laid off,
Montoya came across a classified ad that said "printer wanted."
Although Montoya had taken some lettering and graphic arts classes, he
didn't have the silk-screening experience the printing company was
seeking. But the owner decided to accept Montoya as an apprentice without
pay for the 1st month.
"I had never worked at a job where you only worked five days a week, eight
hours a day," Montoya said. "I went to work there and I fell in love with
Montoya loved the work so much, he often stayed until 9 or 10 at night
making political signs, posters and bumper stickers. He worked there from
1961 to '68, during the civil rights movement and farmworkers' struggle.
"I realized I could use my art to speak about those issues and
conditions," said Montoya, whose artwork often took the form of posters
and murals. "The poster not only could reach hundreds of people at one
time - it could be mass produced."
Montoya became involved with college students in San Jose and started
taking classes at San Jose City College, where he met Professor Joseph
Zirker, who helped him develop an appreciation for Mexican culture and
artists like Diego Rivera. Zirker, who has remained a mentor through the
years, convinced Montoya to stay in school.
>From student to teacher
He transferred to UC Berkeley and graduated in 1970, teaching art and
Chicano studies there until 1974, when he went to work for two years at
the University Without Walls, an alternative college in Berkeley. He then
taught at the California College of Arts and Crafts before coming to teach
at UCD in 1989.
He has lectured and taught at several colleges and universities including
Stanford University, UC Berkeley and the California College of Arts and
Crafts. He was a visiting professor in the art department at the
University of Notre Dame in 2000 and continues as a visiting fellow for
the Institute for Latino Studies, also at Notre Dame.
Montoya's UCD students, through a class on Mexican and Chicano public art,
have created murals at schools in Woodland, Dixon and Vacaville. And
Montoya is planning to open a silk-screen and print workshop and gallery,
Taller Arte del Nuevo Amanecer, for junior high and high school artists in
Woodland by early fall.
"We thought this would be one of the best ways to reach kids," Montoya
said. "There are so many kids who are good artists but it's not looked on
favorably by the family because you're not going to make a lot of money."
Montoya lives in Elmira with his wife, Lezlie Salkowitz-Montoya, a ceramic
artist and former elementary school teacher. They have 5 grown children
and eight grandchildren. Montoya credits his wife with putting together
the death penalty book for publication.
A portion of proceeds from the sale of the book, available in the art
section of the UCD Bookstore, will be donated to organizations working to
abolish the death penalty.
(source: The Davis Enterprise)
Hearing for Store Owner's Murder
In Philadelphia, a man accused of murdering his former boss because he
allegedly owed him money was in court today.
Today, a judge ordered a former employee to stand trial for the killing,
after the employee's reported confession to police was read in court.
40-year-old Roscoe Brown reportedly confessed to the November 8th murder
in exchange for the promise of a life sentence rather than the death
penalty if convicted. Brown's former boss, 42-year-old Ki-Young Hong, was
found dead in the Betty Brite cleaners he owned in Wynnefield.
In the statement, Brown allegedly said Hong underpaid him, and owed him
$400.00 dollars, and that, when confronted, "Hong got racial... he called
me "N" boy... and fired me." According to the statement, Brown allegedly
went back another day to get the money. It reads: "I asked for the money
and he started calling me black boy. I pulled a gun. He laughed. I shot
Lee Mandell/BROWN'S ATTORNEY: "The statement that you heard is allegedly
the product of Mr. Brown. Mr. Brown says to me emphatically that the words
were not his words. The words were supplied to him by the detectives."
Those who know Hong doubt he would have acted the way Brown described.
Anthony Voci/PROSECUTOR: "But not withstanding, a bad relationship with
your boss or former boss doesn't require murder."
Hanks Choi/VICTIM'S PASTOR: "Even though I accept his remarks, still he
should not kill anybody. Based upon that he should show some kind of
emotional regret, or some kind of expression. He shouldn't be proud of his
killings. That is why I'm upset."
In an incredible show of compassion, a member of the victim's family
approached the defendants mother and sister outside the courtroom and put
his arms around them. With tears in their eyes, they offered condolences
saying they were sorry for the Hong family's loss.
Jemin Han/VICTIM'S BROTHER-IN-LAW: "We have still warm heart...we just
acknowledge what he did and we want to forgive what happened."
Brown served time for 2 prior felonies, and still must face trial for
Ki-Young Hong's murder.
(source: WPVI News)
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