[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----CALIF., N.C., ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Nov 12 14:25:05 CST 2004
Judge: Peterson Jury Has Reached Verdict
The jury in the Scott Peterson murder trial has reached a verdict, the
judge said Friday. Judge Alfred A. Delucchi told the court that the
verdict would be made public at 4 p.m. EST.
Audio of the court proceeding was to be made available for broadcasters
but not video, the judge had ruled.
The verdict followed the back-to-back dismissals of jurors on Tuesday and
Wednesday and a day off of deliberations for Veterans Day. The two
dismissed jurors were replaced with alternates and each time, the panel
was told to begin deliberations anew.
Jurors were deciding whether Peterson killed his pregnant wife, Laci, who
vanished Dec. 24, 2002. The trial began with jury selection in March and
opening arguments in June. Closing arguments were presented Nov. 1 and 2
and the original panel began deliberating Nov. 3.
Prosecutors claim Peterson killed Laci, then dumped her weighted body into
San Francisco Bay. The remains of Laci and the fetus, a boy the couple
planned to name Conner, were discovered a few miles from where Peterson
says he went fishing alone the day his wife vanished. The defense
contended someone else killed her.
Jurors were given the option of finding Peterson not guilty or convicting
him or 1st- or 2nd-degree murder.
1st-degree convictions, carrying the death penalty or life without parole,
would mean jurors concluded Peterson planned the killings. 2nd-degree
murder convictions don't require a finding of premeditation and carry
sentences of 15 years to life for each count.
On Wednesday, Delucchi dismissed the jury foreman, a man in his mid-40s
who has medical and law degrees. The judge did not disclose his reasoning.
The action came a day after the removal of another juror who apparently
did her own research on the case, violating the judge's order to consider
only evidence presented at trial.
While deliberations went on earlier this week, the drama shifted from the
courtroom to a parking lot a few blocks away. Defense attorney Mark
Geragos parked a replica boat there Monday after the deliberating jurors
viewed the actual boat prosecutors allege Peterson used to dump his wife's
But the replica boat and its contents -- coveralls stuffed with weights
and concrete anchors tied to the arms and legs -- quickly became a
makeshift shrine, with candles, flowers and hand-lettered signs reading
"Rot in Prison" and "Justice for Laci and Conner."
Geragos had hoped to show jurors a videotaped experiment performed by the
defense during which the replica boat apparently filled with water, but
the judge did not allow it. The tape could have bolstered the defenses
argument that it would have been nearly impossible for Peterson to heave
his wife overboard, as prosecutors contend, without tipping.
(source: Associated Press)
North Carolina Death Penalty Moratorium: Is It Really About Fairness and
Last year, the North Carolina State Senate voted 29-21 to support a
two-year moratorium on executions. The House failed to take up the measure
in the General Assembly's last session, making it necessary for moratorium
proponents to have to reintroduce it in both chambers next year.
Despite the fact this is a matter only state government can decide, local
governments are getting in on the act by calling for a pause in
executions. City commissioners in Creedmore, North Carolina, recently
passed a resolution for a moratorium. So have 22 other local governments,
including the cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Durham,
Charlotte, Asheville, and Thomasville.
Behind this frenzy to instate a death penalty moratorium in North
Carolina, are death penalty abolitionists and the media, who have used the
recent release of death row inmates Daryl Hunt and Alan Gell, as a means
of creating unnecessary fear regarding the death penalty issue. While most
North Carolinians support capital punishment, the exoneration of these two
men has caused many to consider the possibility the system is flawed and
needs fixing. These concerns, however, are largely based on distortions.
It helps to understand the groups leading the fight for a moratorium and
supplying the "statistics" are opposed to the death penalty in principle
and have no genuine interest in reforming the system. Their objective is
to completely abolish capital punishment. The moratorium is simply an
incremental step in that direction. One needs only to look at the websites
of organizations like the ACLU, the Death Penalty Information Center, the
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Amnesty International,
and People of Faith Against the Death Penalty to see this is the case.
For years now, opponents of capital punishment have been unable to
convince the public that the death penalty is an inappropriate response
for crimes so atrocious no other punishment will suffice. So they have
taken a new approach by shifting to a utilitarian argument about fairness.
Specifically, they have sought to persuade the public that capital
punishment will lead to the execution of many innocent persons.
Of course, arguing society must protect the innocent from execution is
more appealing than insisting the death penalty is wrong for even the
worst of crimes. Certainly no one wants to see an innocent person put to
death. Nevertheless, regardless of all the media hype, the overwhelming
majority of capital cases contain no credible evidence of innocence. In
fact, most death row appeals are not even based on claims of factual
One study by the anti-death penalty group, the Death Penalty Information
Center (DPIC), claimed that 114 "innocents" have been exonerated from
death row since 1973. That 114 number, however, doesn't represent actual
innocence. Only 32 of the 114 claim actual innocence and of those 32, only
12 were cleared through DNA evidence. This amounts to only 0.4 % of those
sentenced to death that we can confidently say were innocent. The facts
show the vast majority of death row releases are based on legal
technicalities, not real innocence!
Moreover, the entire contention about "innocence" rests on the notion
there is actually some evidence innocent people are being executed. This
is nonsense! There is no such evidence anywhere -- not even a single case
of an innocent execution! The innocence question is simply disingenuous
propaganda. Let's not forget that for opponents of capital punishment,
regardless of the nature of the crime or the certainty of the individual's
guilt, there is no such thing as a fair execution.
Another part of the "fairness" argument offered by death penalty opponents
is the claim that racism puts more minorities on death row. But these
claims completely ignore the most recent research. Recent studies reveal
white murderers are twice as likely to be executed as black murderers and
are also executed 15 months more quickly than blacks on death row. A 1991
RAND Corporation study and a 1994 Smith College study, as well as a review
of murderers within capital circumstances, reveal the foundation for being
sentenced to death is the crime itself.
What is more, death row defendants receive more due process than any
other. They receive a trial by jury, direct appeals, post-conviction
relief reviews, and state and federal habeas corpus proceedings. It can
take as long as 12 years or more before a death row inmate is executed. In
fact, because there are far less appeals available in cases where only
life imprisonment is at stake, it is considerably more plausible an
innocent person will die in prison, than an innocent person will be put to
death at the hands of the state. It is this lengthy and tedious effort at
due process in death penalty cases that protects the life of the innocent.
It should also be noted that with the advent of DNA evidence, the due
process for those convicted of capital crimes is strengthened all the
more. DNA evidence not only can be used to prove the wrong person was
convicted, but it can also be used to remove any doubt about a prisoner's
I've taken a good deal of flack for my stand against the death-penalty
moratorium in my state, even from well-meaning Christians. Nevertheless,
it is not a hard-hearted unforgiving spirit that compels me to oppose it,
but rather my deep concern for the protection of human life. We are all
aware living murderers injure, maim and kill again, in prison, after
improper release, and after escape. Whether one believes in the
effectiveness of capital punishment as a deterrent or not is irrelevant,
one matter can't be contested: the murderer who is executed will never
Furthermore, it's important to note that in some states where a moratorium
was instituted, the murder rate increased. For instance, in Texas, an
unofficial moratorium on executions was implemented during most of 1996
and early 1997. A study by Dale O. Cloniger and Roberto Marchesini
revealed that as a result of the execution hiatus, the state appeared to
have spared few, if any, condemned prisoners, while the citizens of Texas
experienced an added loss of 90 innocent lives to homicide, over and above
what would have been expected had no moratorium been in place.
Could it be we are so concerned about making sure someone who might not be
guilty of a capital crime isn't executed; we forget about protecting the
lives of those who are most certainly innocent -- the people of the state?
What's fair about that? That's why I hope and pray that when the General
Assembly of North Carolina takes up a bill for a moratorium next year,
they will do what they ought to do -- put such legislation to death!
(source: Editorial, Rev. Mark H. Creech, Christian Post Columnist)
Activists examine death penalty
Amnesty International at the University of Chicago will host its fourth
annual convention of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty this Saturday
Activists from across the country will gather in Kent Hall, at 1020 East
58th Street, to assess the movement, evaluate its victories, and consider
its challenges. The convention will include discussions, workshops, and 10
Noreen McNulty, a convention administrator and chapter member of Amnesty
International in Hyde Park, said the intimate perspective that many of the
guest speakers have on the issue will be among the most remarkable parts
of the convention. "An important highlight of the convention is the former
prisoners and prisoners family members who speak about the issue from a
very personal, first-hand experience," she said.
Among the speakers are Ryan Matthews, who was released from death row in
Louisiana upon recently being freed, and Billy Neal More, a former death
row prisoner in Georgia. Other speakers are family members of those on
death row and experts on the issue, including Locke Bowman, the director
of the MacArthur Justice Center and lecturer in Law at the University of
The convention begins with registration at 9 a.m. on Saturday and
concludes at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. Registration for both days costs $45,
with a special student rate of $10 on Saturday. A Saturday night dinner
program is also available for an additional $10. Visit
http://www.nodeathpenalty.org for more information.
(source: Chicago Maroon)
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