[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----KY., CONN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 15 15:52:01 CST 2004
URGENT ACTION APPEAL UPDATE
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15 November 2004
Further information on UA 294/04 (22 October 2004) - Death penalty / Legal
USA (Kentucky) Thomas Clyde Bowling, aged 51
Kentucky Governor Ernie Fletcher has signed Thomas Bowling's death
warrant. Thomas Clyde Bowling (m), white, is due to be executed on 30
State Attorney General Greg Stumbo requested the Governor set an execution
date after Bowling had exhausted his ordinary court appeals. Attorney
General Stumbo said: "Bowling was sentenced to death, not simply a
lifetime of litigating about death... I promised during the [election]
campaign to be tough on criminals...I am keeping that promise and helping
ensure the safety of Kentuckians."
The death penalty, however, has never been proved to have a special
deterrent effect over and above imprisonment. Neither does the Attorney
General's statement explain how killing someone who is already in prison
will help to "ensure the safety of Kentuckians".
In signing the death warrant, Governor Fletcher wrote to Thomas Bowling's
appeal lawyers stating that he could find no reason to grant clemency and
to exercise his authority to commute the sentence.
The Governor's legal counsel reportedly issued a statement saying that
Governor Fletcher, who is a doctor, was not violating the American Medical
Association's (AMA) guidelines or ethical standards by signing the death
warrant. The AMA's guidelines open by stating that "an individual's
opinion on capital punishment is the personal moral decision of the
individual. A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to
preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a
participant in a legally authorized execution." After Governor Fletcher
signed the death warrant, his legal counsel was quoted as saying: "By
signing a death warrant, in no way is Governor Ernie Fletcher
participating in the conduct of an execution".
The death penalty is a system in which those involved may seek to evade
individual moral responsibility in the legalized killing of another human
being. Governor Fletcher undoubtedly has the authority to prevent his
state from killing Thomas Bowling. He has so far chosen not to exercise
that power. He has the power to reconsider his decision.
Tina and Eddie Earley were shot dead outside their small dry- cleaning
business in the city of Lexington, Kentucky on 9 April 1990. Thomas
Bowling was arrested on 11 April in neighbouring Tennessee. His car and a
.357 calibre handgun were found hidden at his family's home in rural
Thomas Bowling's murder trial was held in December 1990. Among the state's
witnesses were two eyewitnesses, the first of whom described the gunman as
six feet tall (Bowling's approximate height) and wearing a black jacket
and hat (Bowling owned such items). He had not been able to pick Bowling
out at a police line-up, however, and also admitted that he may have told
police that the gunman had long brown hair, a dark complexion and possibly
a moustache - none of which described Bowling. The second eyewitness could
not be located at the time of the trial, and instead the jury was played
an audiotape of a police interview with him on the day of the shootings.
His description did not identify Bowling. The state also presented a
witness who said that he had sold a .357 gun to Bowling a few days before
the shootings. Expert testimony identified Thomas Bowling's car as the
vehicle used in the crime and suggested that the bullets fired at the
scene could have come from the retrieved gun. However, the ballistics
expert admitted that there could be millions of guns that could have fired
the bullets. The defence lawyers presented no witnesses at the
guilt/innocence stage of the trial.
At the sentencing, the defense presented six witnesses. A former work
colleague and two jail employees testified to Thomas Bowling's good
character, and his mother, sister and son testified about their love for
him, his marriage break-up, his dependence on alcohol, his recent
depressed mental and emotional state, and his limited mental ability. The
jury voted for a death sentence.
Thomas Bowling's appeal lawyers continue to challenge his death sentence
on the grounds that he has mental retardation. In 1990, shortly before
Bowling's trial, Kentucky legislated to prohibit the execution of people
with mental retardation. His trial lawyers did not raise the issue. In
2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court outlawed the use of the
death penalty against such offenders. It left it up to each individual
state how to comply with the ruling. At the age of 12 or 13, Thomas
Bowling's IQ was assessed at 74, which with the margin of error in such
assessments places him within the range for possible mental retardation if
coupled with adaptive deficits which Bowling is said to have. He was
described as a "follower" and easily manipulated.
Thomas Bowling's lawyers have also raised doubts about his conviction (see
original UA). The evidence against him is circumstantial - there is no
physical evidence placing him at the scene of the crime, no confession, no
identification of him as the gunman, the weapon linked to him was one of
millions that could have been used in the crime, and while the car used in
the crime was his, there is no proof that he was driving it at the time.
The state did not establish a motive for Thomas Bowling to kill the Earley
couple, whom he did not know and had never met. Thomas Bowling's lawyers
continue to seek relief in the courts.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:
- expressing sympathy for the family and friends of Tina and Eddie Earley,
and explaining that you are not seeking to condone the manner or their
deaths, or to in any way minimize the suffering caused;
- noting evidence that Thomas Bowling has mental retardation, and that if
this is the case his execution would violate state and federal law;
- expressing concern at the doubts surrounding his conviction, and
reminding the governor of the many wrongful convictions and other errors
that have been revealed in capital cases in the USA;
- expressing regret that the governor signed a death warrant in this case,
and has so far rejected using his undoubted authority to stop this
- calling on the governor to reconsider his decision and to grant
Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky
700 Capital Avenue, Suite 100,
Frankfort, KY 40601, USA
Fax: 1 502 564 2517
Email, via website: http://governor.ky.gov/contact.htm
Salutation: Dear Governor
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.
Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and
defends human rights.
This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact
information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help
with this appeal.
Urgent Action Network
Amnesty International USA
PO Box 1270
Nederland CO 80466-1270
Email: uan at aiusa.org
Phone: 303 258 1170
Fax: 303 258 7881
END OF URGENT ACTION APPEAL
Campaign to stop the execution of Michael Ross in Connecticut
We are facing the strong possibility that the state of Connecticut
will carry out the first execution in the state and the first in New
England since 1960. Michael Ross has been transferred to the Osborne
Prison facility in Somers, Connecticut where the death chamber is
located. Mr. Ross has decided to end his appeals. Unless he chooses
to renew his appeals, or unless Governor Jodi Rell decides to
intervene, Mr. Ross will be executed on January 26, 2005.
Michael Ross was convicted and sentenced to death in 1987 for
kidnapping and murdering four young women in eastern Connecticut in
1983 and 1984. The sentence was subsequently overturned due to the
court's failure to allow the jury to consider certain evidence as to
his mental state. At a new penalty phase trial in 2000 he was again
sentenced to death.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without
reservation. Rational or irrational, a decision taken by someone who
is under threat of death at the hands of others cannot be consensual.
What is more, it cannot disguise the fact that the state is involved
in a premeditated killing, a human rights violation that is a symptom
of a culture of violence, not a solution to it.
Please write courteously worded letters to Governor Rell in your
personal capacity - there is no need to mention Amnesty International
for now - and convey the following points:
* As a matter of principle, you are opposed to capital punishment. No
one has been executed in New England since 1960. It would be a step
backward for the state of Connecticut to execute Michael Ross. This
case presents the State of Connecticut with the opportunity to say
that it will no longer allow those who kill to set society's moral
* The death penalty is a violation of international human rights.
* Governor Rell took office after the previous governor was forced to
resign as a result of criminal and legislative investigations into
his conduct in office. She was not herself directly elected to be
governor. Appeal to her not to allow an execution to take place
during her initial year in office.
* Governor Rell has the authority to put off the execution for thirty
days. Mr. Ross has suspended his appeals, although he could choose to
prolong the appeals process for several more years. There are several
substantial constitutional issues that still revolve around this case
and they should be adjudicated.
* Connecticut will use lethal injection to kill Michael Ross. Remind
the governor that lethal injection is still a form of torture and
that recent scientific studies confirm that the prisoner being
executed suffers severe pain. No state should have the authority to
employ torture and Connecticut should not have the illusion that
lethal injection is any more humane than other forms of execution,
like the electric chair or the firing squad.
The Honorable M. Jodi Rell Office of the Governor State Capitol 210
Capitol Avenue Hartford, Connecticut 06106 salutation: Dear Governor
You should also feel free to call the governor's office directly and
express your opposition to capital punishment and the execution of
Telephone (860) 566-4840
Toll-Free (800) 406-1527
For further information, contact Amnesty's Northeast Regional Office
Robert Nave, State Death Penalty Abolition Coordinator
Executive Director Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty
32 Grand Street; Hartford, CT 06106, www.cnadp.org
robertnave at cnadp.org 203-206-9854
More information about the DeathPenalty