[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----MO., KAN., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 7 15:30:40 CST 2005
Will Missouri abolish the death penalty?
As the beginning of February marks the 16th month without an execution in
the state of Missouri, some legislators may be taking a cue from the state
House Bill No. 74, one of the first bills of the new session, proposes a
temporary moratorium on capital punishment in the Show-Me State and calls
for the formation of a committee to investigate the use of the death
Several local legislators said they have heard talk of the proposal around
Rep. Gayle Kingery of the 154th District said he has heard casual
discussion of a proposed moratorium around the capitol and had a visit
from a gentleman in his office last week who asked whether Kingery would
support or oppose such a proposal. Although Kingery said he supports the
death penalty, he believes a study of the process is warranted.
"I would be in favor of a moratorium in our state just to study the issue
and see if the system is working right," Kingery said.
Those who support the moratorium cite cases around the country where
modern technology, including DNA evidence, have cleared previously
convicted death row inmates. One recent case involved a 24-year-old
Louisiana man named Ryan Matthews who was released last August after DNA
cleared him of murder for which he had served five years on death row.
The proposed bill, sponsored by Kansas City Rep. Craig Bland, calls for a
nine-person committee to review basic facts surrounding current death
penalty cases as well as ensuring that there is uniformity between which
cases county prosecutors pursue capital punishment, that race does not
factor in the convictions and that all defendants have adequate and
experienced counsel, among other issues.
The bill calls for an end to executions until Jan. 1, 2007.
Bland has sponsored similar House bills every year since 2000 without
success. Other similar bills have been proposed in the Senate in the past
Kingery said while he supports the death penalty, he feels like there
should be absolutely no doubt of guilt before taking a life.
"We don't want to kill anybody, really, but especially not an innocent
person that has been convicted," he said. "I think being slow and cautious
is a good way to go, and an overall study of our system, especially in
this area, would be prudent."
The 55 convicted murderers who are currently on death row -- including
three local men -- would remain there unless an investigation reveals a
"They would remain there until their case was investigated completely and
thoroughly, and if they were exonerated, they would be released," Kingery
said. "If they were found guilty, then their sentence would continue."
Rep. Mike Dethrow of District 153 said although he is not familiar with
the proposed legislation, he too has heard discussion among the state
leaders about the Supreme Court's near standstill in execution dates.
"It certainly has changed in the last couple of years as the number of
cases has slowed," Dethrow said.
And if a statewide citizen action group has its way, additional
legislation will be sponsored this session to temporarily suspend
executions and, eventually, abolish the death penalty.
The Missouri Catholic Conference is working now to get sponsors -- namely
Republican legislators -- on a bill similar to Bland's in an effort to
show bi-partisan support for the movement.
Rita Linhardt, spokeswoman for the Missouri Catholic Conference, said her
organization is working hand-in-hand with the Missourians to Abolish the
Death Penalty organization to bring to light the alleged disparities in
how death sentences are handed down.
"If that's proven, people might be more willing to keep a moratorium on
the death penalty, or even abolish the death penalty altogether," Linhardt
Linhardt said studies conducted around the state have shown increasing
support for the proposed moratorium and study.
(source: Daily American Republic)
Death penalty bill heads to full Senate
A bill to abolish the death penalty and another to fix a constitutional
flaw were sent to the full Senate this morning.
The Senate Judiciary Committee forwarded both bills without
Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt said the fate of Kansas death penalty
law is too important for a handful of senators to determine. He plans to
set aside a full day for debate.
The committee's action came after Kevin O'Connor, deputy district attorney
for Sedgwick County, pleaded with members not to abolish Kansas' death
"You passed a good law in 1994," he said.
Sen. David Haley, a Kansas City Democrat, introduced the bill to abolish
the death penalty.
"This is, in part, a moral dilemma for members of the committee and
members of the Legislature," Haley said.
In December the Kansas Supreme Court struck down the death penalty law,
ruling 4-3 that one portion of the law unfairly favored prosecutors over
That ruling reopened the death penalty debate, with some urging that it be
abolished. Lawmakers who favor the death penalty are considering whether
to fix Kansas' law or take their chances that it eventually will be upheld
by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Pending a possible reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court, the decision wiped
six death sentences off the books - five from Sedgwick County and one from
Three members of murder victim Brad Heyka's family attended today's
hearing and submitted written testimony in support of the death penalty,
but were not allowed to address the committee.
Heyka was 1 of 4 people killed in Wichita in December 2000 by Jonathan and
Reginald Carr. The 2 brothers received the death penalty for the slayings.
(source: Wichita Eagle)
The entire Senate will debate whether the state should fix its capital
punishment law or repeal it.
The Judiciary Committee today forwarded 2 rival death penalty bills to the
Senate -- without recommending whether they should pass. Members say the
issue is too important to be decided in committee.
Lawmakers are pondering a response to a Kansas Supreme Court ruling in
December, which struck down the state's 1994 death penalty law.
2 other capital punishment bills remain in committee. Both are designed to
strengthen the state's policy against executing mentally retarded
Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt says he wants all death penalty
issues to go before the full Senate for debate.
(source: Associated Press)
Richey faces a return to Death Row
Kenny Richey faces a return to death row as a result of a legal challenge
by prosecutors in the United States.
At a court hearing tomorrow, prosecutors are expected to demand a
rehearing of the appeal which overturned his murder charge.
This could see Richey, who has already served 18 years on Ohio's death
row, once again facing the death penalty - despite the case against him
being ruled deeply flawed by US judges.
The Scot was convicted of arson and murder in 1986 in connection with the
death of 2-year-old Cynthia Collins. He has steadfastly maintained his
2 weeks ago, the 6th Circuit Federal Court of Appeal in Cincinnati
overturned the conviction, on the grounds that Richey's original legal
team committed fundamental errors during the 1986 trial.
Judges on the appeal ruled Richey's conviction was unsafe by a 2-to-1
majority. The state had 14 days to challenge the appeal court verdict and
ask for the appeal to be heard again. With that deadline set to pass at 5
pm tomorrow, it seems almost certain a rehearing will be requested.
US prosecutors have said every legal avenue will be pursued in Richey's
This means even if the appeal is upheld, the state will still seek a
retrial, despite the fact several key witnesses have since altered their
statements, others have died and the forensic evidence used against Richey
has been discredited.
A spokeswoman for the Ohio State Attorney General, cited the case of James
Were, who had his death sentence overturned then re-instated in 2003 after
a retrial, as an example that Richey was not free of the death sentence
"Double jeopardy does not apply in all cases," she said, referring to a US
law which prevents the same person being tried for the same crime twice.
Richey, 40, who grew up in Edinburgh and has plans to return to the
Capital, has always protested his innocence, refusing a plea bargain that
would have seen him released from prison years ago rather than admit
Speaking from her Glasgow home, his fiance Karen Richey said:
"We are not surprised [the Ohio authorities] have taken so long to decide
what they are going to do, and I have been advised by Kenny's lawyer that
they will ask for a rehearing and then a retrial.
"Whether they will be granted it is another question. We knew it would be
a long process, and they were never going to give up without a fight.
Kenny knows this too and knows he will have to wait for his freedom. But I
do not think there will be another trial because they do not have case."
Amnesty International and civil rights groups have described Richeys case
as "one of the most compelling cases of apparent innocence that human
rights campaigners have ever come across".
A spokeswoman for Amnesty International said: "We think it is appalling
this man has been on death row for 18 years, which is why we had called
for a speedy conclusion to this case once the appeal came through.
Kenny has a compelling case for innocence and every day they delay a
decision is another day on Death Row for him, which is not acceptable."
(source: The Scotsman)
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