[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----MISS., N.J., OHIO, KY., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Dec 13 12:08:15 CST 2005
Death penalty----Nixon earned his ultimate sentence
Humane? -- The state injecting into John B. Nixon's veins a lethal dose of
the sedative sodium thiopental, leading to a deep sleep, is more humane
than the last moments of terror and bullet to the brain Nixon gave
Barring some last-minute stay, convicted murderer John B. Nixon Sr. will
keep his appointment with death at 6 p.m. Wednesday, a well-earned and
long delayed punishment.
Every time there is an execution in Mississippi, there are protests about
But, make no mistake, as long as the United States has the death penalty,
Nixon has earned it.
Virginia Tucker tried to bargain with Nixon, hired by her ex-husband to
kill her, at her Brandon home on Jan. 2, 1985. But to no avail.
Nixon put a pistol to her head and pulled the trigger.
The state injecting into Nixon's veins a lethal dose of the sedative
sodium thiopental, leading to a deep sleep, is more humane than the last
moments of terror and bullet to the brain Nixon gave Tucker. And he's had
2 decades of life to bargain with the executioner, living to the ripe age
Had she lived, Tucker would be 65.
There are others for whom juries have also decided death is earned: last
week, regarding Earnest Lee Hargon's Yazoo County murders of his cousin
Michael Hargon, wife Rebecca, and strangling to death their little boy,
James Patrick, 4. How lenient can the law be with such behavior?
Where is the compassion in watching a 4-year-old die?
Headlines today trumpet the rehabilitation on death row of California's
Stanley "Tookie" Williams, co-founder of the notorious Crips gang.
Rehabilitation is good, and he's had 26 years to do good works, living to
the mellow age of 51. But it doesn't help the 4 people he shot to death in
According to USA Today, Americans are turning away from the death penalty,
preferring life without parole.
Life is precious. Maybe it takes a death penalty to teach some - like
Nixon, Hargon, Williams - that lesson.
(source: Opinion, Jackson Clarion-Ledger)
Prosecutor to Codey: Abolish death penalty----Senate to vote on moratorium
The state Senate on Thursday is scheduled to vote on a bill that calls for
a one-year moratorium on the death penalty while a study of its
application takes place.
Meanwhile, Ocean County Prosecutor Thomas F. Kelaher has written a letter
to acting Gov. Codey supporting the abolition of the death penalty and
replacing it with life in prison with no parole for murderers.
Kelaher said he wrote to Codey in hope that the lame-duck Legislature
would pass a bill calling for replacing the death penalty with life in
prison without parole.
However, Jim Manion, a spokesman for the Senate Democrats, said Codey
opposes abolishing the death penalty for now in favor of imposing a
moratorium while the matter is studied.
A bill that would do just that - call for a study and impose a moratorium
on the death penalty for a year, beginning in January - is scheduled for a
vote in the full Senate Thursday, Manion confirmed. If the Senate passes
the bill, it would still need approval in the Assembly.
The moratorium bill, whose sponsors include Sen. Andrew R. Ciesla,
R-Brick, is supported by New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death
Penalty, a statewide organization with some 10,000 members, according to
its director, Celeste Fitzgerald.
The organization contacted Kelaher to help its cause to abolish the death
penalty, and the prosecutor responded recently by writing to Codey.
In his letter, Kelaher noted that there have been no executions in the 23
years since New Jersey reinstated the death penalty.
"The history of nonapplication of the law has been a cruel hoax on the
families of the victims and the citizens of this state," Kelaher wrote to
"We in the law enforcement community have expended enormous resources on
pursuing the application of our death penalty law," he wrote. "Years of
appeal, countless delays, continuous hearings and millions of dollars
later, the condemned are invariably moved to the general prison
population. The strain on prosecution budgets is enormous, and the cost in
human terms is incalculable."
"The limited resources of our budgets should, in my judgment, be focused
on the more immediate task of investigating, arresting, trying and
convicting the miscreants who prey on law-abiding citizens throughout our
state," Kelaher wrote.
Since the death penalty was reinstated in New Jersey in 1982, there have
been 197 capital trials resulting in 60 death sentences, according to
Fitzgerald. Of those death sentences, 50 have been reversed on appeal, she
Those who have had their death sentences reversed include Robert O.
Marshall, 65, the former Toms River insurance salesman convicted in 1986
of hiring a hit man to kill his wife, Maria P. Marshall, 42, during a
faked robbery at a staged breakdown of the couple's car at the Oyster
Creek picnic area on the Garden State Parkway in Lacey on Sept. 7, 1984.
The state Attorney General's Office has said it will ask the U.S. Supreme
Court to hear an appeal of the reversal.
Otherwise, the prosecution would have to retry the death-penalty phase of
Marshall's case if it hopes to execute him. But Kelaher, in a telephone
interview, questioned the efficiency of that, saying that could lead to
another round of appeals.
(source: Asbury Park Press)
Parole hearings postponed in wake of judge's concerns
The Ohio Parole Board is postponing hearings for inmates convicted of
aggravated murder in response to a judge's concerns that the prisoners are
not eligible for release, a spokeswoman said Monday.
The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction also is reviewing whether
parole was appropriate for three people who already have been released,
spokeswoman Andrea Dean said. The state began sending letters Monday to
inmates convicted of aggravated murder informing them that their hearings
have been delayed while their eligibility is reviewed, said JoEllen Lyons,
another prisons spokeswoman. She did not know the total number of inmates
The Ohio public defender's office, whose lawsuit led to the judge's
ruling, said the hearings should continue.
In 2004, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Cain ruled the state had
used improper tactics to hold some inmates longer than sentenced. Inmates
convicted before 1996, when the state replaced open sentences with set
prison terms, deserved fair reconsideration for parole and a reason if
denied, Cain ruled.
However, those convicted of aggravated murder serve open sentences whether
the crimes occurred before or after the law took effect and weren't
covered by the ruling, Cain said in a Nov. 30 letter to Attorney General
Jim Petro's office, which represented the Ohio Adult Parole Authority in
the case before Cain.
Cain criticized the parole authority for maintaining a Web site that he
said included the names of inmates ineligible for hearings under his
The information has since been removed from the Web site and the board has
postponed hearings involving aggravated murder convictions until it
decides what to do.
"We are reviewing the process so we can carry out the instructions of the
court in an appropriate manner," Dean said.
(source: Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Wife of former teen death row inmate pleads guilty to theft
The wife of a man whose death sentence was commuted pleaded guilty to
stealing crime-scene photographs and other documents from his court file.
Eileen Cano Stanford, who married Kevin Stanford after he was sentenced to
death for the 1981 rape and murder of gas-station attendant Baerbel Poore,
pleaded guilty Monday to a pair of misdemeanors, theft and obstructing
Eileen Stanford, 60, who lives in Kuttawa, a few miles from the Kentucky
State Penitentiary at Eddyville where her husband is housed, was sentenced
to four months in jail and fined $500.
Jefferson Circuit Judge Ann Shake also barred Stanford from having any
further contact with her husband's court record or any court archives.
Kevin Stanford was convicted, along with a co-defendant, of the January
1981 rape and murder Poore. Stanford, who was 17 at the time, was
sentenced to death, a judgement Gov. Paul Patton commuted to life in
prison in 2003.
Eileen Stanford stood accused of stealing about 10 photographs, Poore's
driver's license and an affidavit for a search warrant on Nov. 24, 2004,
from Stanford's file in the Jefferson Circuit Court archives in the old
"It strikes at the integrity of public records," said Harry Rothgerber,
first assistant commonwealth's attorney. "You shouldn't be able to go into
archives and steal records."
Rothgerber said a clerk familiar with the file noticed that the photos and
other materials were missing and reported the theft. The documents have
since been recovered, Rothgerber said.
In court, Eileen Stanford did say why she took the records. Rothgerber
said she apparently wanted to hinder the prosecution should her husband's
case go back to court on appeal.
Eileen Stanford's lawyer, Donald Heavrin, said Stanford accidentally took
the materials as she was rushing to leave as the office closed on
Thanksgiving eve. Heavrin said Eileen Stanford mistook photo paper she
brought to the archives with the pictures.
Eileen Stanford was indicted on charges of tampering with physical
evidence and tampering with public records, both felonies. Heavrin said he
advised her to plead guilty to avoid a felony conviction.
(source: Associated Press)
Dateline Producer Begs For Death Penalty Waiver To Crack 3 Murder Cases
Dateline NBC producer Shane Bishop has offered the governors of Texas and
Florida a deal: "Waive the death penalty for a murder suspect, and he'll
help solve 3 murder cases in their states," the Austin American-Statesman
Bishop sent the letter to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush
on Nov. 29. It "offers to help solve the cold cases if the governors would
'guarantee not to pursue the death penalty' against an Arkansas convict
serving life without parole for murder."
Apparently Ronning told Bishop that he committed seven murders, but a
written no-death penalty guarantee is necessary to get Ronning to discuss
"Why am I writing you to beg you take up this effort? Because it's the
right thing to do," Bishop wrote. "But I am certain Dateline NBC would
give substantial coverage to the solving of these three cold case murders
tied to a serial killer, and the essential roles played by the Governors
of Texas and Florida."
Bishop has been a Dateline producer for 12 years. An NBC spokesperson said
Bishop wrote the letter on his own, not on behalf of Dateline...
"This is making the rounds at NBC," an insider says. "People are saying
Corvo was on the line at Dateline. Does this push him over the edge?"
(source: Media Bistro)
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