[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----MO., GA., KAN., CONN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Apr 13 10:42:06 CDT 2005
Missouri opens new chamber for executions
The next time Missouri carries out an execution, the condemned person will
see only family and friends. Other witnesses will watch unseen through
The installation of reflective windows for two of the three separate
witness rooms is the most obvious difference between the new death chamber
and the one used at the Potosi Correctional Center since 1990. In showing
it to reporters Tuesday, Department of Corrections officials said the new
arrangement would provide better access and positioning for witnesses.
Unless the courts or Gov. Matt Blunt intervene, the state will put it to
use on April 27, when Donald Jones, 38, of St. Louis, is scheduled to die
for murdering his grandmother, Dorothy Knuckles, in 1993.
Officially, the execution chamber is Room 148 of V (as in Visitor)
Building at the Eastern Reception and Diagnostic Center, a 2-year-old
prison on the east end of Bonne Terre, 60 miles south of St. Louis. The
17-by-10-foot chamber has white cinder block walls, rows of windows framed
in glossy black steel along three of the walls, an air vent and 2 fire
sprinklers that jut through the ceiling. All is splashed in bright neon
John Fougere, department spokesman, described the room as austere. It is
that, as well as straightforward in purpose - bored into the wall next to
a brown steel gurney is a 1 3/4-inch hole through which will flow the
killing chemicals in intravenous lines.
Fougere said Missouri was following a trend by installing reflective
one-way glass between the prisoner being executed and the separate rooms
for relatives of the prisoner's victim and state observers, who include
police officers and reporters. Standard glass is used in the third room
for the prisoner's family and friends, who will be visible to the state
observers and the victim's relatives.
"We think it's most important for the offender to see his own witnesses,"
Fougere said. "I don't know that it's better, but it is the way most
states do it these days."
The three witness rooms are larger than those at the Potosi prison, more
securely separated and better insulated for sound. At Potosi, only a
curtain and corrections officers separated victims' families from state
observers. Officers had to lead witnesses to and from the chamber through
a winding maze of hallways, assembly rooms and a courtyard.
At Bonne Terre, V Building is just inside the perimeter's triple fence
line. Officers will take witnesses at separate times across one large room
to the chamber area.
Room 148 is the state's 3rd execution chamber in modern times. From 1938
to 1965, Missouri executed 39 people in the gas chamber at its old
penitentiary in Jefferson City. It was used again in 1989 for the first
execution by injection under current procedures and U.S. Supreme Court
rules. (Counties held their own executions until the state took them over
The state then built a chamber in its Potosi Correctional Center and used
it until March 16, when it executed Stanley Hall of St. Louis for throwing
Barbara Jo Wood to her death from a bridge in 1994.
Missouri has 54 men under death sentence, all of whom live among the
general population at the Potosi prison. On the day a prisoner is to be
executed, officers will take him the 15 or so miles from Potosi to Bonne
There he will wait in a 2-room area that has a stainless-steel shower
stall, a television and 2 telephones. A black steel door separates the
area from Room 148.
Outside the waiting room, beyond a secured green door, lies the last of
the world he will have seen - an asphalt drive and an interior fence,
across from which is the prison baseball field.
(source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Death row life analyzed
The Georgia Innocence Project has received almost 1,900 requests from
inmates in the past 3 years for assistance in proving their innocence,
many of them coming from death row.
Aimee Maxwell and Billy Neal Moore spoke at the School of Law Tuesday,
offering first-hand experiences dealing with death row.
Maxwell is the executive director of the Georgia Innocence Project (GIP),
a non-profit organization -- founded in 2002 -- dedicated to helping
people currently in prison and on death row prove through DNA that they
However, Maxwell said not every case is eligible for help: "We can only
help when a crime was committed, DNA was left behind and the police have
the DNA," she said.
She discussed the case of Clarence Harrison, who was wrongly accused of a
rape in 1986 in which the victim identified him in a line-up.
The Project was able to locate the evidence involved in Harrison's case,
and Harrison was quickly proven innocent and set free in one week.
"Eyewitness identification is scary evidence," Maxwell said. "This is
evidence to be suspect of."
"I was pro-death penalty before, and I came here and both the speakers,
especially (Maxwell), made me rethink that," said Hariqbal Basi, a
sophomore from Dunwoody, whose mind was changed from Maxwell's speech.
Moore came to discuss death row from an ex-inmate's perspective.
Moore served on death row for nearly 17 years for murdering a 77-year-old
man who was attempting to rob his house.
He dodged execution several times, once coming within 7 hours of being
After attempting parole many times, he was finally taken off death row,
given a life sentence and was released from prison on Nov. 8, 1991 -- a
blessing, he said.
"(The lecture) gave me a new perspective on the death penalty," said
Carrie Mumah, a sophomore from Marietta, "just hearing people who have
actually experienced being 7 hours from execution."
Murder suspect faces death penalty
Prosecutors could seek the death penalty against a Newton man suspected of
fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy during this weekend's deadly standoff.
Gregory A. Moore, 46, is facing 1 count of capital murder in the death of
Harvey County Deputy Sheriff Kurt Ford, 38, according to the criminal
complaint filed in Harvey County District Court.
Filing the capital murder charge allows Atty. Gen. Phill Kline to seek the
death penalty, but the final decision about whether to pursue that has not
yet been made, Whitney Watson, spokesman for Kline's office, said Tuesday.
Moore was also charged with two counts of attempted capital murder -- one
for allegedly shooting and injuring Hesston Police Detective Christopher
Eilert and another for allegedly shooting at Harvey County investigator
Other charges include one count of aggravated kidnapping and one count of
criminal possession of a firearm. The firearms charge noted Moore has an
earlier felony conviction for aggravated battery.
Moore was in handcuffs for his first appearance Monday in a courtroom
packed with law enforcement officers and relatives of the victims.
District Judge Richard Walker ordered Moore held without bond pending a
May 9 preliminary hearing. The state's Death Penalty Defense Unit was
appointed to represent him.
Kansas' death penalty law was ruled unconstitutional in December by the
Kansas Supreme Court, but that ruling was stayed during the appeal to the
U.S. Supreme Court. Moore would only face capital punishment if the U.S.
Supreme Court upholds Kansas' death penalty law.
(source: Associated Press)
Psychiatrist hired by Ross says his competent
4 days of testimony from psychiatrists who have interviewed and tested
serial killer Michael Ross have produced drastically conflicting opinions
about his mental competency, leaving a Superior Court judge with a
Judge Patrick Clifford can either agree with the experts who believe Ross
is an intelligent, remorseful man who cares about his victims' families,
or those who say he is a violent and suicidal man filled with narcissistic
If he is ruled mentally competent, Ross will be allowed to forgo any
further appeals of his death sentence and become the 1st person executed
in New England in 45 years.
4 doctors have interviewed Ross. 2 say he is mentally competent to
volunteer for execution and 2 say he is not.
Depending on which doctor is asked, Ross may be depressed, anti-social,
narcissistic or bipolar. His desire to die may be a selfless act or an
ultimate act of selfishness.
Part of the problem, doctors agree, is that Ross is not always honest with
them and has been wildly inconsistent in his statements over the past 2
The doctors have handled this differently.
Dr. Stuart Grassian, an expert on the effects of long-term confinement,
chose to focus on what he believes were statements Ross made in unguarded
moments. Grassian, who has reservations about the death penalty,
criticized other psychiatrists on Monday and said Ross has been driven to
suicide by the solitary confinement on death row.
"I have not found any research that supports his theory," Dr. Suzanne
Gentile countered Tuesday. "There's no evidence that where he has been
housed for almost 20 years has produced incompetence."
Gentile, an expert on suicide who works at the state-run Whiting Forensic
Institute in Middletown, supported the conclusions of Dr. Michael Norko,
the former director of Whiting, who testified that Ross has been able to
withstand the stress of confinement "to a large extent."
Gentile criticized Grassian's methods and also offered criticism in
advance of the expected testimony of Dr. Eric Goldsmith who is expected to
testify Wednesday that Ross is bipolar and incompetent.
Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford, who found Ross competent last year
but who is revisiting that decision now, seemed frustrated Tuesday by the
conflicting reports and psychiatric evaluations.
"I hear you saying you don't want to give me any more reading," he told
Ross attorney T. R. Paulding. "But it looks like you are and it's hard to
do when I'm watching videotape again.
Clifford has not said how quickly he will rule after the hearing ends.
(source: Associated Press)
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