[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----KY., IND., CALIF., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Nov 12 09:27:48 CST 2004
Fletcher Shouldn't Endorse Execution As Punishment
Gov. Ernie Fletcher has been informed by legal authorities that T. C.
Bowling Jr. has been properly tried, convicted and sentenced to death for
two murders he committed in 1990. In a written statement, Fletcher said,
"After 14 years of review, no court has found any reason to overturn
either his conviction or sentence."
I assume that Fletcher, as a lay minister, is aware of Jesus saving the
life of a woman convicted of adultery from death by stoning. When the
people seeking the woman's death were challenged by Jesus to attest that
they were without sin, they departed. With the condemners gone, Jesus said
to the woman, "Neither do I condemn thee: Go and sin no more."
No court has found reason to overturn Bowling's sentence, but Jesus has.
His compassion continues today for people on Death Row. President Bush has
many times talked about his daily prayer and Bible reading. By publicly
disclosing his private religious behavior, Bush has convinced many
gullible people that he is a faithful follower of Jesus. While Texas
governor, Bush signed 152 death warrants.
Unlike Jesus, Fletcher is politically unable to let convicted murderers go
free. But their confinement to a cell the size of a bathroom for the
remainder of their lives is punishment enough for those waiting execution.
Howard E. Marlin----Lexington
(source: Letter to the Editor, Lexington Herald-Leader)
Attorneys may drop death penalty request because of financial problems
Defense attorneys in a high profile Madison County murder trial have filed
a motion in court to dismiss the state's death penalty request. However,
it's the county's financial problems, not the crime causing the motion.
Fredrick Baer is being charged with killing 26 year-old Cory Clark of
Lapel and her 4-year-old daughter.
According to the motion filed by Baer's defense attorneys, the "state
should not be permitted to seek the extraordinary penalty of death where
it is not prepared to provide the funds necessary for an adequate and
"I don't believe the county's financial difficulties should keep this man
from being tried to the fullest extent of the law," Madison County
Councilman Scott Tischler said.
A death penalty trial would cost Madison County about a half million
dollars, but the state will only refund about half of that cost.
"We're supposed to get paid about every 30 days, by law, and we have gone
about three months without getting paid," Bryan Williams, one of Baer's
defense attorneys said.
If the death penalty is dropped, the expense of defending Baer will
probably be cut by 80%.
Right now, the defendant has 2 lawyers, a mitigation specialist and a
private investigator. If the death penalty were to be dropped, the
defendant would only get one attorney and possibly a mitigation
Madison County Council President Jeff Hardin and County Auditor Pat Dillon
have been subpoenaed to go before Judge Dennis Carroll on Monday to decide
whether or not the county can afford to keep pursuing the death penalty.
(source: Newslink Indiana)
Peterson Case Puts the Jury on Defensive
Even before the start of the jury's tumultuous deliberations in the Scott
Peterson murder trial, San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Alfred A.
Delucchi was worried. "I feel like I'm sitting on a powder keg," he said.
Some would call that an understatement.
In the week and a half since they started, the deliberations have become
so contentious that two jurors, including the foreman, have been booted
off the panel. Some jurors were scolded by the judge for experimenting
with evidence and admonished not to let biases get in the way of their
On Wednesday, the county's chief investigator was called in to deal with
some additional but unspecified problems involving the jury.
That same day, the tumult in the courtroom cascaded out onto Redwood
City's streets, where someone had parked a boat a block from the
courthouse that was similar to the one allegedly used by Peterson to
dispose of his pregnant wife's body. Sprawled inside the boat was a
headless dummy clad in overalls and attached to cement anchors.
The boat was left on property owned by Peterson attorney Mark Geragos, who
was accused of trying to manipulate public sentiment and possibly the
Before the boat was towed away Wednesday night, it had been covered with
flowers and candles left by locals in memory of Laci Peterson, whose body
washed up in April 2003 near where Peterson said he had been fishing on
the day she disappeared.
Today, as the sequestered jury resumes deliberations, some legal experts
are wondering whether a panel that appears, at least from the outside,
divided and surrounded by controversy can reach a unanimous verdict. The
stakes could not be higher for Peterson, who could face the death penalty
"It all puts a really terrible face on our legal system and the way it
handles high-profile cases," said former San Mateo County prosecutor Chuck
Smith. "And if the jury arrives at a verdict, one way or the other, it is
going to be tainted by all these episodes of chaos."
In the meantime, Delucchi's courtroom continues to be bombarded with
telephone calls and faxes from mysterious tipsters claiming to know "who
really killed Laci."
Like "Nicole and O.J.," "Monica and Bill" and "Chandra and Gary" before
them, "Laci and Scott," have become standard conversational fare in
households across the nation. Many of the same celebrity lawyers, former
prosecutors and talk-show hosts who popped up regularly during the O.J.
Simpson trial have returned to analyze the Peterson case nightly on cable
TV, with some of them even becoming main players in the unfolding drama.
Geragos, who had appeared more than once on "Larry King Live" excoriating
Scott Peterson, later became the fertilizer salesman's lead attorney.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who had represented the family of the slain Nicole
Brown Simpson, also has landed a role in the Peterson case.
Peterson, it turned out, had been hiding a lover - massage therapist Amber
Frey - just down the road in Fresno, and Frey chose Allred to bring her
out of the shadows.
Now, Allred and legal consultants with ties to Geragos, along with an army
of criminal trial experts, take to the airwaves day and night, offering
instant analyses of everything that happens inside and outside of the
Redwood City courtroom.
"This case wants to be another O.J., in that it tries to generate as much
publicity as it can," said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law
"In a post-O.J. world, some trials don't just occur inside the courtroom -
there are spin artists inside, as well as outside," she said.
Robert Pugsley, professor of criminal law at Southwestern University
School of Law, was more blunt: "The media has become an intruder in legal
processes, and explodes public awareness - and lurid interest - in trials
that should be settled in courtrooms, not television studios or the
streets of the city in which the case is being held."
"We should care because it corrupts justice," he said, "by turning trials
into TV game shows or reality television, when, in fact, they involve
life-and-death matters being decided by ordinary people doing their best
to reach a verdict without being influenced."
It remains to be seen whether such tactics will make a difference in the
Bay Area town of Redwood City, which until the Peterson trial was an
unremarkable bedroom community of 80,000 people with red-brick,
turn-of-the-century architecture and electric street arches proclaiming
"Redwood City Climate Best by Government Test."
In recent months, the city's downtown has been transformed. Media tents
have sprouted on the courthouse grounds and crowds gather early each
morning in hopes of scoring one of the 27 courtroom seats up for grabs by
raffle each day.
Among the regulars is Marlene Newell, who has attended three-quarters of
"This trial feels like a circus," Newell said, "and I wouldn't be
surprised if there's a mistrial.
"If that happens, how on earth will they ever pick an objective jury, even
in a place like Los Angeles?" she wondered aloud Thursday. "Gosh, it took
three months just to seat this jury."
The basic prosecution case is not all that complicated. Peterson allegedly
killed his 27-year-old wife and used a new 14-foot aluminum fishing boat
to dump her body in San Francisco Bay on Christmas Eve 2002. Prosecutors
say he began plotting to kill his wife a month earlier after starting an
affair with Frey.
The defense maintains that Peterson had nothing to do with his wife's
disappearance or death. Geragos claims she was kidnapped by strangers,
perhaps members of a satanic cult or homeless people from a local park,
who framed his client.
Tall, tan and supremely confident, Geragos began each day of the trial by
wrapping an arm around Peterson's shoulder and whispering humorous asides
in his ear. His handling of the case has gotten mixed reviews.
While many observers think he did an excellent job of raising doubts
before trial, others found his closing arguments lackluster and wondered
why he had abruptly ended his six-day case after calling only 14
In what some considered vulgar language, Geragos urged jurors during his
closing statement to stick to the evidence and not to prejudge his client
even though he "cheated on his wife and feels like a 14-karat [expletive]
for doing it."
Prosecutor Rick Distaso, a former military lawyer from Modesto with a
studious demeanor, didn't get rave reviews either. His thorough but
uninspired style seemed to some to be excessively dry as he steadily
presented his case, which was almost solely based on circumstantial
In his closing remarks, however, Distaso surprised many in the audience by
giving a passionate, forceful and coherent argument that some trial court
analysts compared to a fiery church sermon.
The prosecution's case lasted 19 weeks, called 174 witnesses, and featured
hundreds of tape-recorded telephone conversations between Peterson and
Frey, who became a star witness for the prosecution.
The jury now has the option of acquitting Peterson, 32, or finding him
guilty of first-degree or second-degree murder. Anything short of a
unanimous verdict would result in a mistrial and, perhaps, a 2nd trial.
Some trial analysts speculate that the dismissed jurors may have been
standing in the way of a verdict, and that without them, a decision could
be imminent. Others, however, shake their heads in dismay over the fact
that the jury has lost three members since June - two of them this week.
With 3 alternates left and rumors flying that yet another juror wants off
the panel, legal analyst Paula Canny was only half-joking when she said,
"At this rate, the jury will run out of alternates by Tuesday."
"If we lose 3 more," she said, "there isn't going to be a verdict, and the
whole thing starts over again."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Boat removed near Peterson trial site----Tumultuous jury deliberations
break for Veterans Day
A boat parked near the courthouse where Scott Peterson's double-murder
trial is under way was towed away during the night, witnesses told CNN
The 14-foot boat -- similar to one owned by Peterson -- was in a parking
lot Wednesday that CNN contributor Nancy Grace said is owned by defense
attorney Mark Geragos.
Inside the boat were 4 cement weights, a weight belt and a dummy. Signs
were taped to its side -- one said, "RIP Laci and Conner, You Are Missed,"
while another read, "Murderer! Murderer!"
Some area residents placed flowers at the base of the boat.
Sources close to the case told CNN the boat was the same one used by the
defense in a videotaped demonstration that the defense claims proves the
boat would have capsized if a body were dumped overboard, as prosecutors
The judge denied the defense request to have the video shown in the trial.
The jury was off Thursday in observance of Veterans Day. It is to resume
On Wednesday, Judge Alfred A. Delucchi dismissed the jury foreman without
explanation, the second juror in 2 days to be tossed from the panel and
the third since the trial began. The latest removal forced the panel to
start over with deliberations for the 3rd time.
3 alternates remain available in the case.
Scott Peterson, 32, is accused of killing his 27-year-old pregnant wife,
Laci, and her fetus nearly 2 years ago. Prosecutors contend he dumped her
body, weighted down with homemade cement anchors, in San Francisco Bay.
The bodies washed ashore separately in April 2003, near where Peterson
said he had launched his boat during a fishing trip on Christmas Eve.
If convicted of first-degree murder, to which he has pleaded not guilty,
Peterson could be sentenced to death. Jurors have the option of convicting
Peterson on the lesser charge of second-degree murder if they decide the
slaying was not premeditated. A conviction on that charge could mean a
sentence of 15 years to life in prison.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said after the foreman's dismissal: "The
point is that the judge is determined to keep this thing moving, and he's
getting rid of jurors who are impediments."
Considering the months of time and effort put into the trial, Toobin said,
Delucchi obviously wants to avoid declaring a mistrial.
(source: Associated Press)
Death row real estate -- Tug of war over San Quentin's future creates
Developers, real estate agents and politicians dream of bulldozing San
Quentin State Prison because, they say, the 152-year-old relic has become
too costly to maintain and should be put to better use.
The bay front site would be ideal, they say, for mixed-income
neighborhoods with parks, playing fields, shops, restaurants and a transit
center with a rail link and a deep-water hub for ferries.
"We believe that San Quentin should be shut down and there should be a
comprehensive and spirited debate among all sectors of the community on
how that site should be used," said Edward Segal, executive vice president
of the Marin Association of Realtors.
But prison officials are moving ahead with plans to build a new, $220
million Death Row at San Quentin -- a project that would turn as many as
40 acres of prime waterfront property into pod-like cellblocks and other
facilities for the state's most notorious inmates.
These plans for a maximum security Death Row compound on the west side of
the 432-acre prison property have won a surprising degree of support from
death penalty opponents and prison volunteers. Both groups say they stand
a better chance of helping inmates if the prison remains open.
Some residents of San Quentin Village, who fear that outside developers
want to turn their quaint enclave into a small city with huge traffic
problems, also support the new death row project. Still others are fed up
with having a busy prison complex in their backyard.
San Quentin's future is a tug of war of strange alliances and political
power plays. In recent years, jawing about the prison's fate has become
one of Marin County's passions. But this time, the debate seems to be
moving past idle speculation. Big decisions are in the works that could
affect the prison property for decades.
Advocates and critics of competing plans for San Quentin voiced their
opinions in recent interviews and hearings. A public forum held Oct. 27 on
the Death Row project attracted about 80 people on all sides of the issue.
State planners held a hearing Nov. 4 to field public comments on its
environmental impact report for the site.
Prisoner advocates and volunteers who work in San Quentin's community
programs have mixed feelings about rebuilding death row, but many of them
want to keep the suburban prison open and accessible to inmates' families,
lawyers and volunteers.
Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, and other prison
advocates say that death row should be close to an urban area to provide
easy access to the state Supreme Court and defense lawyers who handle
The prison's extensive programs, which include religious groups, college
and high school classes, counseling and sports activities such as the San
Quentin Giants baseball team, depend on hundreds of Bay Area volunteers.
"It's kind of like worlds colliding," said Jody Lewen, who heads a program
of college courses for San Quentin inmates. "I can perfectly understand
the people who want to develop the land. It's physically beautiful and
"When I look at San Quentin, I see the opportunity to create a model for
criminal justice reform," said Lewen, who supports the plan to build a new
Death Row. "I want to create effective education and rehabilitation
programs, gather the data that's vital for any administrator or legislator
who wants to advocate for change, and demonstrate to the public how
effective these programs are -- how much money they save, and how they can
lower the prison population as a whole."
Others question why the state needs to house its condemned inmates at San
Quentin, rather than disperse them among California's maximum security
prisons. Only 10 inmates have been executed at San Quentin since the death
penalty was reinstated in 1976.
"In some parts of the country, prisons are viewed as economic bonanzas,"
Segal said. "Why can't we move the prison to where it would be received
with open arms? It would free up San Quentin for better, more productive
uses. Death penalty critics say that it is far better for inmates'
executions to occur at San Quentin, rather than at a prison in a rural
area that would be removed from media scrutiny and the public eye.
"It's very important that executions not become a total abstraction in the
minds of the public," Lewen said. "We're talking about living, breathing
people with nerve endings and families."
Others argue that state prison officials should invest in inmate-related
services, rather than in building or expanding prisons.
"We understand that conditions for prisoners have to be improved as
quickly as possible, but we think that time and time again the Department
of Corrections has shown that it is incapable of improving conditions for
prisoners," said Ari Wohlfeiler of Critical Resistance, a nonprofit group
that opposes the expansion of death row at San Quentin or elsewhere. "We
think this is a blatant move of trying to put 1,000 new beds in the system
under the cloak of improving conditions."
For decades, rumors have surfaced occasionally that San Quentin would soon
be closed. In recent years, state officials have considered moving its
Death Row inmates to other state prisons.
There have also been attempts to expand San Quentin. In the 1990s, state
officials proposed to double the prison's size, but local residents
derailed that proposal.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's endorsement of plans to build a new Death Row
has caught many locals by surprise. Construction is slated to begin next
September and take up to 2 years.
"There is no reason to be steam-rolling ahead without a thorough
discussion of alternatives," Segal said. "Unless the public stands up and
says 'No,' unless the public puts pressure on the governor, it's almost a
"It's about providing adequate, secure and safe conditions for those
sentenced to death," said George Sifuentes, deputy director of facilities
management for the prison system. "The state Legislature approved it. The
governor signed it. Our job is to build it."
Some residents of San Quentin Village, a blue-collar enclave next to the
prison property, take comfort living in the prison's shadow.
"I see it as a place of healing," said village resident Jean Arnold, who
previously ran San Quentin's literacy program. "You will not find these
volunteers at (state prisons in) Blythe, Mule Creek or Chowchilla. I am
for a new death row being built at San Quentin, and never thought I would
Village resident Cynthia Shone, who also supports the new Death Row, said:
"I would rather see this place stay the way it is than developed into a
place like everywhere else. ... This is like the San Rafael where we grew
up. The powers that be know how valuable this property is. They want to
take over this site and sell $2 million homes and condos."
The new Condemned Inmate Complex for 1,408 male prisoners would replace an
aging Death Row where 600 or so inmates are housed. Built in the 1930s,
the state's only Death Row is overcrowded and deteriorating, which
presents security and safety problems. The state plans to use the existing
death row to house general population inmates. The execution chamber would
"What this boils down to is safety," said state prison official Terry
Thornton. "Safety for the inmates, safety for the staff, and safety for
Hundreds of new employees would work at the new death row, which would be
encircled by a lethal, electrified fence. As many as 600 construction
workers at a time would build the new facility.
State assembly member Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, has questioned the fiscal
wisdom of building a new death row. He has lobbied Schwarzenegger's staff
to consider shutting down San Quentin.
A state audit requested by Nation found that San Quentin's annual
operating and maintenance costs are exceptionally high, with extra
overtime charges, housing stipends and recruitment bonuses for the
prison's 1,100 employees.
"There's no question that San Quentin is costing the state an arm and a
leg," Nation said. "It may be that it's cheaper over a short period to
keep San Quentin there, but over a longer period it will end up costing
the state a whole lot more ...
"The key is what the governor does. It's really in the governor's hands
right now. If the governor chooses to move forward and ignore the audit,
that's his prerogative. But the last time I looked at the state budget, we
The state audit concluded that the cost of transferring condemned inmates
to another prison would far surpass the state's expected profit from
selling the land at San Quentin, but it criticized prison officials for
not assessing the costs and benefits of relocating death row to another
San Quentin is "the most expensive prison in the system to maintain," said
Marin Supervisor Steve Kinsey, who recommends that death row inmates be
transferred to Folsom State Prison. One option, he said, would be to
retain at San Quentin a portion of the prison's general population, but
not those sentenced to death.
"No meaningful alternatives have been analyzed. The homework hasn't been
done," Kinsey said. "It's a quarter-billion-dollar investment over the
next 25 years. It's going to impact the site for a century or more."
A key player behind efforts to redevelop San Quentin is Bill White, a
North Bay real estate developer. White served on the San Quentin Reuse
Committee, a panel chaired by Kinsey, which last year explored different
options for developing the 432-acre site.
Among other things, planners envision a historic park including San
Quentin's oldest cellblock, its death row and sally port. One quarter of
an estimated 2,100 to 3,585 new residential units, they say, would be
classified as "affordable" to households earning up to 60 percent of the
local median income.
Some locals worry about the traffic impacts of a new transit center, shops
and housing. Others fear that San Quentin, which lights the night sky like
a refinery, will become more of an eyesore if a new death row is built
At a public forum, Kinsey warned that the prison's plans are "butt ugly...
The new buildings will not resemble the medieval, Romanesque architecture
we associate with San Quentin today.
"The plans are too big for the site," Kinsey said, stressing that 60-foot
security lighting towers at the new death row will be seen by residents
who live miles away.
Others insist that San Quentin has a historic legacy at the site.
"I want people to see the prison from where they live," Lewen said. "I
don't see it as an aesthetic issue. I see it as a political issue. With
all due respect, if you don't want to look at a prison, start looking for
alternatives to incarceration."
Realtors stress that building affordable housing should be a top priority.
They point out that many nurses, firefighters and others cannot afford to
own a house in Marin County. About half of San Quentin's guards live in
Solano and Contra Costa counties. Some guards commute to the prison from
Sacramento and beyond.
But some people question the motives of the politicians who want to tear
down the prison.
"San Quentin is leading the state in progressive rehabilitation programs,
" said Beth Waitkus, a consultant who manages an inmate garden project at
the prison. "If you get rid of this prison ... you'd be doing a horrible
disservice to the state. And I'm appalled that you're doing this for
Kinsey and his loose-knit alliance of realt estate agents and business
execs insist that their only consideration is how the prison acreage can
best serve the county and the Bay Area.
"We are not salivating for that property," said Elissa Giambastiani,
president of the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce. "Our organization has
been working passionately for years to create affordable housing in our
Jeanne Woodford, the director of the California Department of Corrections,
served previously as the warden of San Quentin, where she took pride in
fostering innovative rehabilitation programs.
"I think the prison is located right where it should be. It's in a
metropolitan area," Woodford told The Chronicle in a 2002 interview. "It's
important that society knows what goes on in our prisons. ... Prisons are
a community problem -- because inmates are going to parole to these
communities, and they are going to impact these communities, positively or
Still others question the costs and benefits of building a new death row
on San Francisco Bay.
"The state of California does not have a lot of money to throw around.
That money can certainly be used to help address more pressing concerns,
whether it's transportation, education, or the environment," Segal said.
"It will be a tremendous opportunity wasted if we let this chance slip
through our fingers. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Law, Justice, and Data
A lawyer friend emailed last week to say he has a new book coming out in
January. James Doyle's True Witness: Cops, Courts, Science and The Battle
Against Misidentification focuses on the history of the legal system's
resistance to psychological research on memory in general and eyewitness
memory in particular. Doyle is a national expert on the vagaries of
eyewitness testimony, a subject most often in the news these days when DNA
evidence proves the inaccuracy of all those eyewitnesses whose
overconfident testimony helps send innocent people to death row.
By coincidence, also last week the Boston Globe reported this item about
the influence of psychological research on death-penalty cases:
A federal judge in Boston has ruled that if juries convict two alleged
gang members of murder next year, different juries must decide whether the
men should get the death penalty. US District Judge Nancy Gertner said the
usual practice of a single jury considering both guilt and punishment tips
the balance unfairly toward conviction, because people who oppose the
death penalty are disqualified from serving on juries in capital
The Globe story describes the situation well:
Ordinarily, capital cases in federal and state courts are divided into two
phases. Before a jury is chosen to consider guilt, prosecutors have the
right to disqualify any potential juror who opposes capital punishment and
would be unable to vote to put a convicted defendant to death. But lawyers
for [the two defendants] ... said that a growing body of evidence shows
that purging such jurors produces a panel that is disproportionately white
and male and more likely to convict defendants.
Gertner agreed. "Updated data presented by defendants in this case
overwhelmingly shows that death-qualified jurors are significantly more
conviction-prone than jurors who are not death-qualified," she wrote in
her order Wednesday.
Back during my psychology/law post-doctoral days at the University of
Nebraska, the data Gertner refers to about conviction-prone death-penalty
juries was already being accumulated, though it never seemed to me
necessary. It seems obvious enough that requiring jurors to be
pro-death-penalty leads to juries more likely to convict in the first
So-called "death-qualified" jurors are more likely than those excluded to
be suspicious of defendants and people of color, trusting of police, and
willing to err on the side of conviction. All of these biases counter the
law's theoretical assumption that a defendant is innocent unless proven
guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Too many jurors come into the jury room
ready to convict unless the defendant can persuade them otherwise. It's
supposed to work the other way around.
The real advantage of having research-based data may be that judges like
Gertner can say she's simply following the evidence rather than letting
her own biases affect her decision making. Again the Globe:
Gertner also said that although the US Supreme Court has ruled that using
a single jury throughout a capital case passes constitutional muster, the
high court never said the Constitution requires it.
Gertner's own determination to do what she thinks make sense certainly
comes into play. As I suspect Doyle may discuss in his new book, the law
traditionally resists external influence. The Real World can easily muck
up the purity of hard-nosed legal reasoning. That's part of the reason law
and justice have less to do with one another than most people like to
Massachusetts, where I live, has no state death penalty, but under the
soon-to-be-departed John Ashbrook's shift as U.S. Attorney General,
federal prosecutors are forcing the death penalty on states whose own
citizens don't want them. By the time George W. Bush gets finished
reshaping the federal judiciary over the next four years, judges like
Gertner who try to humanize the law by incorporating reality-based justice
concerns will be harder to find.
(source: eTalkinghead, Nov. 11)
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