[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----FLA., CONN., OHIO, ALA., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Feb 8 16:02:44 CST 2005
Jury Begins Deliberations In Shaken Baby Death Penalty Trial
In Viera, a jury has begun deliberating in the murder trial of Sherman
Dorsey. He's accused of killing 4-month-old Samari Player by shaking her
to death while he was babysitting.
The jury is trying to decide Dorsey's fate, but within 15 minutes of
getting the case Tuesday they came right back with requests of the court.
Dorsey cast a smile in court Tuesday morning, despite the fact his life is
now in the hands of 12 people he has never met. Judge Preston Silvernail
read the jury their instructions Tuesday morning, charging them with
deciding whether Dorsey is guilty of 1st-degree murder.
Prosecutors believe he shook the infant so violently her brain couldn't
function and her breathing was hampered. But defense attorneys have
contended there was no proof the injuries occurred while the baby was in
Dorsey's care, and that someone who had custody of her prior to him may
have caused the fatal injuries.
Within minutes of getting the case, the jury came back with a list of
requests, asking for a VCR and monitor to watch Dorsey's statement to
police, the transcript of the statement, an easel, a flip pad, markers,
masking tape, legal pads and coffee.
The transcript, the judge said, was not part of the evidence and they
could hear what he said themselves on the videotape.
Because it's a death penalty case, the jury must be sequestered until they
come back with a decision. They are already talking about ordering them
dinner, and even hotel rooms for the night, in preparation for lengthy
(source: WFTY News)
Gutless Judges Don't Enforce Death Penalty
Letters To The Editor:
I'm somewhat disturbed by the letter from Christopher Morth, not because
he opposes the death penalty but because of the way he characterizes
America ("Executing Ross would set a sad example," Feb. 2). Mr. Morth
states, "Much of Europe has been ahead of us in outlawing slavery, ridding
our society of conservative censorship, abolishing the death penalty, and
generally seeking to unite the world instead of conquer it."
Does he mean the same Europe whose United Nations members received
oil-for-food blood money, while Saddam Hussein and sons tortured children
and filled mass graves? The same Europe that let Jewish citizens get
beaten up in the streets of Berlin? The same Europe whose 5,000 French
senior citizens died from the heat a few summers back while the younger
people took off on their 6 weeks of vacation? The same Europe whose
cradle-to-grave social programs are breaking the backs of their economies
and encouraging the laziest workers on the planet?
Have America's foreign policies been 100 % flawless? No. But we are
the good guys, with immense freedoms that 2 years ago the average Iraqi
citizen couldn't even have dreamed about. When Mr. Morth says, "Kids today
should be raised in a world that doesn't support government-sponsored
killings," you'd think he was talking about North Korea and not the United
I'm starting to think that Connecticut should abolish its death penalty.
But only because we've got gutless judges who won't enforce it. Twenty
years of pain for the victims' (who were children, not "young women")
families and this creep Michael Ross is still around. He should be removed
from Death Row and sent back into the general prison population where the
inmates can have their way with him, the way they did with that other
horrific monster, Jeffrey Dahmer.
(source: Letter to the Editor, The Day)
Marion man appeals his death sentence
The appeals court upheld the sentence of a Marion man who has been on
death row for 17 years.
Joseph Murphy, 39, appealed his execution on the grounds that he is
mentally retarded. A 2002 United States Supreme Court decision ruled it
unconstitutional to put mentally retarded people to death.
The Third District Court of Appeals judges denied Murphy's request.
Prosecution presented the testimony of eight psychologists to prove that
Murphy is not mentally retarded.
A Marion jury sentenced Joseph Murphy to death in August of 1987 when
Murphy was found guilty of cutting a woman's throat in her Davids Street
home. He was convicted of aggravated murder, aggravated robbery,
aggravated burglary and extortion.
Attorneys from State Public Defender's Office represent Murphy. Marion
County Prosecutor Jim Slagle is doing prosecution for Murphy's appeals and
prosecuted Murphy in his 1987 trial.
Murphy was incarcerated on Oct. 1, 1987, and he is held at the Mansfield
(source: The Marion Star)
Daniel Wade Moore's Father Talks About His Son
The father of Daniel Wade Moore talked Sunday about his son's 1st few days
of freedom. Daniel Moore was released from jail Friday after a judge
dismissed capital murder charges, saying prosecution withheld evidence
during the trial.
The 2 men have talked by phone numerous times. But Sunday morning, they
spent some time together. Wade Moore said, "He's glad to be out of jail
naturally. It's going to take a little adjusting. He's been in there a
long time." Wade Moore has seen his son go in and out of jail the past 5
years. But now that he's out, it's been tough to see him at all. Wade
says, "He's just been seeing family. They had his mother's birthday party
Saturday night and he went to it. Really, just seeing family members cause
he's been locked up for five years. It's been terrible for me, his mother,
my mother, anybody that cares about Daniel."
But now that Daniel is out, the difficult part may be dealing with the
anger Wade sees in his son's eyes. Wade says, "He's pretty angry right
now. I can understand that. How he adjusts to that, we'll just have to
wait and see."
Waiting is not easy when you had a son on death row, not easy when you had
to wait 11 months for a judge to finally dismiss the charges against him.
But now that it's done, Wade Moore has some advice for his son.
"My advice is leave Alabama and don't come back," he says. Wade Moore says
that's what he thinks is best for his son, even if it means more distance
between them and less time together.
The Alabama assistant attorney general is asking the state's Court of
Criminal Appeals to reinstate the capital murder charge against Daniel
Wade Moore. He's also asking that Moore be returned to jail until the
appeal is heard.
(source: NewsChannel 19)
For the Worst of Us, the Diagnosis May Be 'Evil'
Predatory killers often do far more than commit murder. Some have lured
their victims into homemade chambers for prolonged torture. Others have
exotic tastes - for vivisection, sexual humiliation, burning. Many perform
their grisly rituals as much for pleasure as for any other reason.
Among themselves, a few forensic scientists have taken to thinking of
these people as not merely disturbed but evil. Evil in that their
deliberate, habitual savagery defies any psychological explanation or
attempt at treatment.
Most psychiatrists assiduously avoid the word evil, contending that its
use would precipitate a dangerous slide from clinical to moral judgment
that could put people on death row unnecessarily and obscure the
understanding of violent criminals.
Still, many career forensic examiners say their work forces them to
reflect on the concept of evil, and some acknowledge they can find no
other term for certain individuals they have evaluated.
In an effort to standardize what makes a crime particularly heinous, a
group at New York University has been developing what it calls a depravity
scale, which rates the horror of an act by the sum of its grim details.
And a prominent personality expert at Columbia University has published a
22-level hierarchy of evil behavior, derived from detailed biographies of
more than 500 violent criminals.
He is now working on a book urging the profession not to shrink from
thinking in terms of evil when appraising certain offenders, even if the
E-word cannot be used as part of an official examination or diagnosis.
"We are talking about people who commit breathtaking acts, who do so
repeatedly, who know what they're doing, and are doing it in peacetime"
under no threat to themselves, said Dr. Michael Stone, the Columbia
psychiatrist, who has examined several hundred killers at Mid-Hudson
Psychiatric Center in New Hampton, N.Y., and others at Creedmoor
Psychiatric Center in Queens, where he consults and teaches. "We know from
experience who these people are, and how they behave," and it is time, he
said, to give their behavior "the proper appellation."
Western religious leaders, evolutionary theorists and psychological
researchers agree that almost all human beings have the capacity to commit
brutal acts, even when they are not directly threatened. In Dr. Stanley
Milgram's famous electroshock experiments in the 1960's, participants
delivered what they thought were punishing electric jolts to a fellow
citizen, merely because they were encouraged to do so by an authority
figure as part of a learning experiment.
In the real world, the grim images coming out of Iraq -the beheadings by
Iraqi insurgents and the Abu Ghraib tortures, complete with preening
guards - suggest how much further people can go when they feel justified.
In Nazi prisoner camps, as during purges in Kosovo and Cambodia,
historians found that clerks, teachers, bureaucrats and other normally
peaceable citizens committed some of the gruesome violence, apparently
swept along in the kind of collective thoughtlessness that the philosopher
Hannah Arendt described as the banality of evil.
"Evil is endemic, it's constant, it is a potential in all of us. Just
about everyone has committed evil acts," said Dr. Robert I. Simon, a
clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and the
author of "Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream."
Dr. Simon considers the notion of evil to be of no use to forensic
psychiatry, in part because evil is ultimately in the eye of the beholder,
shaped by political and cultural as well as religious values. The
terrorists on Sept. 11 thought that they were serving God, he argues;
those who kill people at abortion clinics also claim to be doing so. If
the issue is history's most transcendent savages, on the other hand, most
people agree that Hitler and Pol Pot would qualify.
"When you start talking about evil, psychiatrists don't know anything more
about it than anyone else," Dr. Simon said. "Our opinions might carry more
weight, under the patina or authority of the profession, but the point is,
you can call someone evil and so can I. So what? What does it add?"
Dr. Stone argues that one possible benefit of including a consideration of
evil may be a more clear-eyed appreciation of who should be removed from
society and not allowed back. He is not an advocate of the death penalty,
he said. And his interest in evil began long before President Bush began
using the word to describe terrorists or hostile regimes.
Dr. Stone's hierarchy of evil is topped by the names of many infamous
criminals who were executed or locked up for good: Theodore R. Bundy, the
former law school student convicted of killing two young women in Florida
and linked to dozens of other killings in the 1970's; John Wayne Gacy of
Illinois, the convicted killer who strangled more than 30 boys and buried
them under his house; and Ian Brady who, with his girlfriend, Myra
Hindley, tortured and killed children in England in a rampage in the
1960's known as the moors murders.
But another killer on the hierarchy is Albert Fentress, a former
schoolteacher in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., examined by Dr. Stone, who killed and
cannibalized a teenager, in 1979. Mr. Fentress petitioned to be released
from a state mental hospital, and in 1999 a jury agreed that he was ready;
he later withdrew the petition, when prosecutors announced that a new
witness would testify against him.
At a hearing in 2001, Dr. Stone argued against Mr. Fentress's release, and
the idea that the killer might be considered ready to make his way back
into society still makes the psychiatrist's eyes widen.
Researchers have found that some people who commit violent crimes are much
more likely than others to kill or maim again, and one way they measure
this potential is with a structured examination called the psychopathy
As part of an extensive, in-depth interview, a trained examiner rates the
offender on a 20-item personality test. The items include glibness and
superficial charm, grandiose self-worth, pathological lying, proneness to
boredom and emotional vacuity. The subjects earn zero points if the
description is not applicable, 2 points if it is highly applicable, and
one if it is somewhat or sometimes true.
The psychologist who devised the checklist, Dr. Robert Hare, a professor
emeritus at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said that
average total scores varied from below five in the general population to
the low 20's in prison populations, to a range of 30 to 40 - highly
psychopathic - in predatory killers. In a series of studies,
criminologists have found that people who score in the high range are two
to four times as likely as other prisoners to commit another crime when
released. More than 90 percent of the men and a few women at the top of
Dr. Stone's hierarchy qualify as psychopaths.
In recent years, neuroscientists have found evidence that psychopathy
scores reflect physical differences in brain function. Last April,
Canadian and American researchers reported in a brain-imaging study that
psychopaths processed certain abstract words - grace, future, power, for
example - differently from nonpsychopaths.
In addition, preliminary findings from new imaging research have revealed
apparent oddities in the way psychopaths mentally process certain
photographs, like graphic depictions of accident scenes, said Dr. Kent
Kiehl, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale, a lead
author on both studies.
No one knows how significant these differences are, or whether they are a
result of genetic or social factors. Broken homes and childhood trauma are
common among brutal killers; so is malignant narcissism, a personality
type characterized not only by grandiosity but by fantasies of unlimited
power and success, a deep sense of entitlement, and a need for excessive
"There is a group we call lethal predators, who are psychopathic,
sadistic, and sane, and people have said this is approaching a measure of
evil, and with good reason," Dr. Hare said. "What I would say is that
there are some people for whom evil acts - what we would consider evil
acts - are no big deal. And I agree with Michael Stone that the
circumstances and context are less important than who they are."
Checklists, scales, and other psychological exams are not blood tests,
however, and their use in support of a concept as loaded as evil could
backfire, many psychiatrists say. Not all violent predators are
psychopaths, for one thing, nor are most psychopaths violent criminals.
And to suggest that psychopathy or some other profile is a reliable
measure of evil, they say, would be irresponsible and ultimately
jeopardize the credibility of the profession.
In the 1980's and 1990's, a psychiatrist in Dallas earned the name Dr.
Death by testifying in court, in a wide variety of cases, that he was
certain that defendants would commit more crimes in the future - though
often, he had not examined them. Many were sentenced to death.
"I agree that some people cannot be rehabilitated, but the risk in using
the word evil is that it may mean one thing to one psychiatrist, and
something else to another, and then we're in trouble, " said Dr. Saul
Faerstein, a forensic psychiatrist in Beverly Hills. "I don't know that we
want psychiatrists as gatekeepers, making life-and-death judgments in some
cases, based on a concept that is not medical."
Even if it is used judiciously, other experts say, the concept of evil is
powerful enough that it could obscure the mental troubles and intellectual
quirks that motivate brutal killers, and sometimes allow them to avoid
detection. Mr. Bundy, the serial killer, was reportedly very romantic,
attentive and affectionate with his own girlfriends, while he referred to
his victims as "cargo" and "damaged goods," Dr. Simon noted.
Mr. Gacy, a gracious and successful businessman, reportedly created a
clown figure to lift the spirits of ailing children. "He was a very
normal, very functional guy in many respects," said Dr. Richard Rappaport,
a forensic psychiatrist based in La Costa, Calif., who examined Mr. Gacy
before his trial. Dr. Rappaport said he received holiday cards from Mr.
Gacy every year before he was executed.
"I think the main reason it's better to avoid the term evil, at least in
the courtroom, is that for many it evokes a personalized Satan, the idea
that there is supernatural causation for misconduct," said Dr. Park Dietz,
a forensic psychiatrist in Newport Beach, Calif., who examined the
convicted serial murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, as well as Lyle and Erik
Menendez, who were convicted of murdering their parents in Beverly Hills.
"This could only conceal a subtle important truth about many of these
people, such as the high rate of personality disorders," Dr. Dietz said.
He added: "The fact is that there aren't many in whom I couldn't find some
redeeming attributes and some humanity. As far as we can tell, the causes
of their behavior are biological, psychological and social, and do not so
far demonstrably include the work of Lucifer."
The doctors who argue that evil has a place in forensics are well aware of
these risks, but say that in some cases they are worth taking. They say it
is possible - necessary, in fact, to understand many predatory killers -
to hold inside one's head many disparate dimensions: that the person in
question may be narcissistic, perhaps abused by a parent, or even
charming, affectionate and intelligent, but also in some sense evil. While
the term may not be appropriate for use in a courtroom or a clinical
diagnosis, they say, it is an element of human nature that should not be
Dr. Angela Hegarty, director of psychiatry at Creedmoor who works with Dr.
Stone, said she was skeptical of using the concept of evil but realized
that in her work she found herself thinking and talking about it all the
time. In 11 years as a forensic examiner, in this country and in Europe,
she said, she counts four violent criminals who were so vicious, sadistic
and selfish that no other word could describe them.
One was a man who gruesomely murdered his own wife and young children and
who showed more annoyance than remorse, more self-pity than concern for
anyone else affected by the murders. On one occasion when Dr. Hegarty saw
him, he was extremely upset - beside himself - because a staff attendant
at the facility where he lived was late in arriving with a video, delaying
the start of the movie. The man became abusive, she said: he insisted on
(source: The New York Times)
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