[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ILL., USA, KAN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Nov 3 14:28:14 CST 2004
Communication Professors New Documentary Screened Nov. 8
Following on his award-winning documentary, Illinois State University
Communications John McHale will screen his new documentary, "Picture This:
The Battle to Save Joe Amrine," on Monday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. in 101
Stevenson Hall. The screening, with narration from actor Danny Glover, is
free and open to the public.
The documentary tells the story of the fight to save Kansas City resident
Joe Amrine, who was released from the Missouri prison system in July of
2003, after spending 17 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.
The Missouri Supreme Court decided to release Amrine in April of 2003.
The documentary reveals weaknesses in our criminal justice system and
tells the story of how activated citizens of Missouri were able to fight
for Amrines release. "Picture This" features footage from McHales previous
award-winning documentary "Unreasonable Doubt: The Joe Amrine Case" which
took viewers through the story of this Missouri man wrongfully convicted
of a prison murder and sentenced to death. The previous documentary
revealed the startling lack of witnesses or evidence that implicated
Amrine in the murder.
Sponsored by the Illinois State Innocence Project, the Department of
Communication, and the Illinois State University Cinema Society, "Picture
This" was directed and produced by McHale, with portions of the
documentary receiving four awards. Segments of "Picture This" were
screened at the United Nations Human Rights Commission Conference in
Geneva, Switzerland in April 2004, and have been exhibited to sold-out
crowds in cities across the Midwest. The BBC and other television news
programs and regional newspapers have featured the documentary.
(source: Media Relations, ISU)
High court considers Florida death row case----The issue: Did a lawyer's
ploy of conceding guilt in hopes of mercy doom a client who refused to
help in his defense?
The Supreme Court considered on Tuesday whether a lawyer was wrong to
concede a death row inmate's guilt without his consent, and many justices
seemed unwilling to second-guess a trial strategy aimed at saving the
The high court appeared ready to set aside a Florida Supreme Court
decision to grant a new trial to Joe Elton Nixon, convicted in the 1984
murder of a woman he met at a Tallahassee mall.
At issue is the court-appointed attorney's decision to admit at trial that
Nixon was responsible for the victim's "horrible, horrible death" in hopes
that his candor would persuade the jury not to impose the death penalty.
Asserting a "complete breakdown in the adversarial process," attorney
Edward H. Tillinghast contended that Nixon was unfairly sentenced to death
because his lawyer didn't try to prove his innocence.
Tillinghast was met with a barrage of skeptical questioning by justices
wondering why they should second-guess the trial attorney, Michael Corin.
Nixon had opportunities to object when his lawyer told him of the strategy
but didn't, they said.
"You said his lawyer acted without consent ... but he said nothing," said
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "Where a client doesn't say yes and doesn't
say no, mustn't a lawyer do what he thinks is best to do? Mustn't a lawyer
exercise his best judgment?"
Justice Antonin Scalia agreed. "According to the lower courts, (conceding
guilt) was a good strategy. I don't know why you want counsel, when a
client doesn't answer, to take a course that gets him executed."
Nixon did not attend his trial; he refused to enter the courtroom. The
judge held a hearing in a cell to make sure he was waiving his right to
attend the trial. Nixon said he wanted another attorney and that he would
disrupt the trial.
Florida prosecutors say Nixon kidnapped Jeanne Bickner, a 38-year-old
state employee who was helping him start his stalled car, tied her to a
tree with her jumper cables and set her on fire. Facing substantial
evidence against his client, Corin tried unsuccessfully to plea-bargain
for life in prison before deciding to concede the man's guilt at the
After he was sentenced to death, Nixon said he was denied a Sixth
Amendment right to counsel because his attorney had not argued his defense
vigorously. Prosecutors countered that Nixon did not object to the
strategy - ultimately unsuccessful - to build jury sympathy.
The case hinges on a pair of Supreme Court decisions handed down in 1984
amid justices' concerns that punishments were sometimes imposed
arbitrarily due to poor attorney representation.
The rulings limit inmates' ability to claim a Sixth Amendment violation if
their attorneys made a strategic choice not to pursue certain defenses.
The rulings provide exceptions, however, when counsel utterly fails to
challenge the prosecution with "meaningful adversarial testing."
In a 5-2 decision last year, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a new trial
after finding Corin did not effectively represent Nixon, nor did the
defendant agree to the lawyer's strategy.
George S. Lemieux, Florida's deputy attorney general, told justices that
lawyers should be able to decide the best defense when a defendant isn't
Lemieux noted that Nixon's attorney conducted 52 depositions and
investigated Nixon's life history as a part of a vigorous defense.
"He did everything he could," Lemieux said.
(source: Associated Press)
Orchid Positioned to Provide Increased DNA Testing Services as Landmark
New Criminal Justice Law Goes Into Effect - 'Justice for All Act' Provides
Major Federal Funding to Clear Backlog of DNA Samples, Ensure the Right
Person is Convicted and Expand Use of DNA in Law Enforcement -
Orchid BioSciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: ORCH), a leading worldwide supplier of
DNA identity testing services, announced today that it is well-positioned
to assist in providing the increased DNA testing services expected to
result from a landmark new law recently signed by President Bush -- the
"Justice for All Act of 2004," which sets the stage for broad-based DNA
testing for law enforcement in the U.S.
The legislation authorizes an infusion of more than $1 billion in federal
funds over the next 5 years to eliminate the current backlog of unanalyzed
DNA evidence languishing in police department evidence rooms, to afford
greater access to DNA testing by convicted offenders and to enable
expansion of the FBI Laboratory's national Combined DNA Index System,
known as CODIS.
Through its Orchid Cellmark unit, Orchid is a long-established leader in
providing forensic DNA analysis services to law enforcement agencies in
the U.S. and the U.K., and in developing innovative ways to expand the
utility of DNA testing.
"Through our involvement in literally thousands of criminal cases in
nearly all 50 U.S. states and the U.K., currently the most advanced user
of forensic DNA analysis in the world, Orchid Cellmark has experienced
first hand the power of DNA testing to improve the criminal justice
system, so we are well-positioned to accommodate the increasing testing
volumes expected to result from this landmark legislation," said Paul J.
Kelly, M.D., chief executive officer of Orchid. "As a pioneer and
innovator in DNA analysis, we look forward to serving as a key
collaborative partner with law enforcement agencies, organizations
protecting the innocent, and advocates for victims of crime to ensure that
DNA evidence is used in a timely manner to convict the guilty and absolve
Highlights of Orchid's forensic activities include:
-- Collaborated with the New York City Police Department to create
Biotracks, a new pilot program to solve burglaries using DNA samples from
crime scene evidence. According to published news reports, Biotracks has
identified 23 suspects in 34 cases, most of which might otherwise have
been left unsolved. Orchid proposed this new application of DNA forensic
analysis in the U.S. based on its successful experience supporting a
similar program in the U.K.
-- Orchid Cellmark is the largest independent supplier of scene-of-crime
DNA analysis to U.K. police forces including the Metropolitan Police
Force, home of the famed "Scotland Yard." The U.K. is recognized as a
world leader in using DNA evidence to help solve crimes.
-- Orchid Cellmark recently helped identify a suspect in a 1968 murder
case in New Jersey by analyzing DNA samples more than 30 years old. Orchid
Cellmark provided DNA testing assistance leading to the confession of Gary
Ridgeway in the Green River murders investigation, the largest serial rape
and murder case in the nation's history. DNA testing by Orchid Cellmark
exonerated 4 wrongly-convicted defendants imprisoned for more than 17
years for the Chicago slaying of medical student Lori Roscetti. Orchid
Cellmark is also currently assisting the Houston Police Department in the
reanalysis of DNA cases during its moratorium to attain accreditation.
-- Orchid Cellmark has analyzed DNA evidence used in many high profile
criminal cases, including O.J. Simpson, JonBenet Ramsey, Danielle Van Dam,
and the Unabomber, and has helped to identify the remains of victims of
the World Trade Center disaster.
-- Orchid Cellmark has also provided forensic testing in historically
notable cases including Christopher Columbus, the Boston Strangler, Jesse
James and Billy the Kid.
"One of the more significant aspects of the Justice for All Act is that
the elimination of DNA backlogs and wider use of DNA forensic testing will
actually increase the effectiveness of police investigations by adding
more criminals to the federal CODIS database and testing DNA evidence in a
higher proportion of crimes," noted Mark Stolorow, executive director of
Orchid Cellmark. "In the U.K., where the DNA database includes all
convicted offenders and many arrestees, almost 50 % of crime scene
evidence samples produce a database 'cold hit,' thereby identifying the
perpetrator. We look forward to working with criminal justice
organizations throughout the country to help unlock the power of DNA
analysis to further improve the effectiveness and equity of our criminal
About the Justice for All Act of 2004
The Justice for All Act of 2004, or H.R.5107, passed the U.S. Senate by
unanimous consent on October 9, 2004 after passing the House on a similar
vote earlier that week. The bill was signed into law by the President on
October 30, 2004. This omnibus legislation enhances the rights and
protections for all persons involved in the criminal justice system
through two different, but complementary, mechanisms: (1) a new set of
statutory victims' rights that are both enforceable in a court of law and
supported by fully-funded victims' assistance programs; and (2) a
comprehensive DNA bill that seeks to ensure that the true offender is
caught and convicted for the crime. This critical legislation will provide
much-needed funds to reduce the backlog of cases for which there is
untested DNA evidence, provide funding for victims' services through
grants to prosecutor and defender offices, and ensure access to post-
conviction DNA testing for those who may be in prison or on death row for
crimes they did not commit.
-- Enacts the Debbie Smith Backlog Grant Program, authorizing $755 million
to test the backlog of over 300,000 rape kits and other crime scene
evidence awaiting analysis in our nation's police departments, to test
offender DNA samples, and to improve the capacity of crime labs to conduct
-- Enacts the DNA Sexual Assault Justice Act and the Rape Kits and DNA
Evidence Backlog Elimination Act, authorizing more than $500 million for
programs to reduce non-DNA backlogs, train examiners, support sexual
assault forensic examiner programs, and promote the use of DNA to identify
missing persons; and
-- Includes the Innocence Protection Act, which:
-- Creates the Kirk Bloodsworth Post-Conviction DNA Testing Program and
authorizes $25 million over 5 years to help states pay the costs of
post-conviction DNA testing; and
-- Authorizes grants to states for Capital Prosecution and Capital Defense
Improvement, which will be used to train, oversee, and improve the quality
of death penalty trials, as well as assist families of murder victims.
More information about the Justice for All Act of 2004, or bill H.R.5107,
can be found on the Library of Congress website at http://thomas.loc.gov/.
About Orchid Cellmark
Under the Cellmark brand, Orchid has been a leader in private forensic DNA
analysis since 1987 and is now one of the largest private DNA forensic
testing providers in the world. Orchid has an international network of
forensic testing laboratories in the U.S. and U.K., where it works with
the famed "Scotland Yard" and others. The company provides a full range of
high quality, customized forensic DNA testing and consultative services
for both prosecutors and defendants. Its services include DNA testing for
criminal casework analysis and expert testimony, as well as identification
of victims of accidents and disasters. Last year the company launched DNA
Express(TM), a premium service to help U.S. local law enforcement agencies
analyze backlogs of DNA evidence from unsolved crimes in five business
days, as compared to the standard one-to-two months. More information on
Orchid's U.S. forensic DNA testing services can be found at
About Orchid BioSciences, Inc.
Orchid BioSciences is a leading provider of identity genetics services for
the forensic and paternity DNA testing markets and for public health and
animal DNA testing for food safety. Orchid's strong market positions in
these segments leverage the Company's accredited laboratories in the U.S.
and U.K., its innovative genetic analysis technologies and expertise, and
the world- renowned Cellmark and GeneScreen brands that have been
associated with exceptional quality, reliability, innovation and customer
service for nearly two decades. More information on Orchid can be found at
All statements in this press release that are not historical are forward-
looking statements within the meaning of Private Securities Litigation
Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding: the expected increase
in DNA testing services resulting from a landmark new law; the expected
infusion of more than $1 billion in federal funds over the next 5 years
authorized by the Justice for All Act; the expectation that Orchid is
well-positioned to assist in providing the expected increase in DNA
testing services; the expected increase in effectiveness of police
investigations, by adding more criminals to the federal CODIS database and
testing DNA evidence in a higher proportion of crimes, and Orchid's
anticipation in continuing to work with criminal justice organizations.
Such statements are subject to the risks and uncertainties that could
cause actual results to differ materially from those projected, including,
but not limited to, uncertainties relating to technologies, product
development, manufacturing, market acceptance, cost and pricing of Orchid
products and services, dependence on collaborations and partners,
regulatory approvals, competition, intellectual property of others, patent
protection, litigation and Orchid's ability to obtain additional
financing. These risks and other additional factors affecting Orchid's
business are discussed under the headings "Risks Related to Our Business,"
"Risks Related to the Biotechnology Industry" and "Risks Associated with
Our Common Stock" in Orchid's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year
ended December 31, 2003, as filed with the Securities and Exchange
Commission, and in other filings made by Orchid with the Securities and
Exchange Commission from time to time. Orchid expressly disclaims any
obligation or undertaking to release publicly any updates or revisions to
any forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect any change in
Orchid's expectations with regard thereto or any change in events,
conditions, or circumstances on which any such statements are based,
except as may be required by law.
(source: Orchid BioSciences, Inc.----Web Site: http://www.orchid.com
(source: PR Newswire)
KANSAS----new death sentence
Belt gets death penalty for beheading woman
The jury in the Douglas Belt capital murder case returned to Sedgwick
County District Court this morning and announced that he will face
execution for killing Lucille Gallegos in 2002.
At least one juror fought back tears as the penalty verdict was read.
Belt, 42, had asked jurors on Tuesday to spare his life, even though he
was sure some of them considered him "a monster."
Belt was convicted of capital murder, attempted rape and aggravated arson
on Monday. Gallegos' severely mutilated and headless body was found in a
blood-spattered west Wichita apartment that had been set on fire.
(source: Wichita Eagle)
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