[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----N. MEX., LA., IND., MD.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Feb 28 16:58:49 CST 2005
House passes death penalty repeal
In Santa Fe, the House Monday voted to abolish the death penalty in New
Mexico and replace it with a sentence of life without parole.
The repeal bill passed on a vote of 38-to-31. It now goes to the Senate.
Death penalty opponents have tried to get the law repealed for about 8
years. Mondays vote was the 1st time during that effort the full House had
voted on it.
Opponents of capital punishment say it does not deter murder, that its
expensive for the state, and there is a risk of executing innocent people.
Supporters of the death penalty argue that it does have a deterrent
effect, and that its a fitting punishment for some murderers.
There are 2 men on New Mexicos death row. If the bill were to be enacted
into law, it would not affect their death sentences.
(source: Associated Press)
DA can seek death penalty
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court decision
Wednesday that will allow the Bossier/Webster District Attorneys Office to
seek the death penalty a 2nd time for a man who was convicted of 1st
degree murder more than 15 years ago.
This is a precedent-setting decision that varies from a 1980 decision in
which the Louisiana Supreme Court ruled that the prosecution was
prohibited from seeking the death penalty twice on a capital offense where
the defendant received a life sentence and successfully challenged that
decision on appeal. "This changes the law, and we're very pleased,"
Bossier/Webster District Attorney Schuyler Marvin said.
James Crandell was successful in getting his 1991 conviction appealed on
claims that the process by which the grand jury was selected was unfair
because a black foreperson was never selected. While the selection process
has since been changed, Crandells conviction came before the changes were
Crandell was charged and convicted of killing Charles Perr of Bossier City
in 1989, and the prosecution sought the death penalty in the case.
However, the jury did not come to a unanimous decision and Crandell was
sentenced to life in prison.
District Judge Parker Self ruled in January that because the error of the
court occurred in the grand jury selection process, not in the trial or
sentencing process, all the proceedings following the indictment were
Marvin said there is a good chance this will be the end of the appeal
process concerning the death penalty.
"They may try to take writs to the (Louisiana) Supreme Court, but given
the amount of writs the Supreme Court denies without even hearing them,
which is close to 90 %, this will probably be the last step," he said.
Should the Supreme Court deny the appeal, Marvin said the trial date could
be set for late this fall.
(source: Bossier Press)
Documentary Focuses on Kernan's Handling of the Death Penalty
A high profile death penalty case in Indiana is the focus of a television
Former Governor Joe Kernan tackled some tough and timely questions at the
Just days before the scheduled execution of Darnell Williams in mid-summer
2004 for the murder of a Gary couple, Governor Joe Kernan sided with the
Indiana Parole Board and commuted his sentence to life without parole.
"One of the co-defendants was arguably more responsible and yet Darnell
Williams was receiving the most severe penalty," said Kernan.
A & E producers spent 140 hours documenting the case with Williams and his
attorney Juliet Yackel.
Williams is the 1st inmate to have his death sentence commuted by an
Indiana governor since 1956.
Monday, Kernan talked about his decision and recommendations during the
documentarys premiere at IU Law School.
"I encouraged the three branches of government in Indiana to get together
and review our death penalty system and the way we administer and review
capital cases," said Kernan.
This year alone, as many as 8 death row inmates could be executed in
"I make no judgment about any of the other cases. But, on the bases of the
2 cases I reviewed in great depth, there are certainly inconsistencies
with what I believe are just outcomes," said Kernan.
Kernan commuted 2 death sentences during his term, but some experts say
it's still considered a rare act.
The A & E documentary "Countdown to Execution" will run on March 16.
(source: WISH TV News)
As many of you know, the State of Maryland plans to kill Vernon
Evans on the week of April 18th. Only your actions stand between
Vernon and the State's death chamber. Below is an article I wrote
for the New Abolitionist. Please take some time to read it.
Also, below you will find Vernon's address and the contact information
of for the Governor of Maryland. Please begin writing the Governor
and demand that he stop the execution of Vernon Evans.
More information about actions, events, meetings on Vernon's behalf
will follow soon.
Vernon Evan's case is cause for alarm
By Michael Stark
Is Maryland death row prisoner Vernon Evans an
innocent man? Maryland's Court of Appeals calls the
idea "farfetched" and recently denied his request for
a new trial. However, when most people hear about a
man who was sentenced to die in a trial where Blacks
were systematically excluded from the jury, the
State's main witness received a deal in exchange for
her testimony, and the only eyewitness to the crime
couldn't identify Vernon, they don't consider the
possibility "farfetched" at all.
Vernon was sentenced to die for the 1983 Baltimore
County shooting of David Peichowicz and Susan Kennedy.
Baltimore County has earned sordid reputation for
sending poor Black men to die on flimsy evidence.
This is the same County that sent Eugene Colvin-El,
Kevin Wiggins, and Kenny Collins each to die -- only to
have them later taken off death row because of poor
representation and flimsy evidence. Vernon's case
fits that pattern.
Vernon was denied justice in his case from the very
start his trial. During the course of the jury
selection, the judge warned the prosecutor -- who was
part of the team that had used six of its nine
peremptory challenges at an earlier federal trial to
remove African American jurors -- not to use race as a
factor in striking potential jurors. The warning
didn't do any good. The same prosecutor went on to
use 80% of his peremptory challenges to strike African
American from the jury pool. In the end, the jury
consisted of 10 whites and two African Americans.
When Vernon's attorney?s objected the judge refused to
These unjust practices were ;ater shown not to be
limited to Vernon's case. A Howard University study
examining murder trials from 1982-84 showed that,
controlling for variables of age, gender, education,
and employment status, Baltimore County prosecutors
had been striking potential African Americans jury
member at twice the expected rate.
Things only got worse during the trial itself. The
only eyewitness to the shooting could not identify
Vernon as the shooter -- and his conviction rested
merely on circumstantial evidence. Several other
witnesses did describe a man at the scene of the crime
who was 5' 8 ''. Vernon, whose nickname was "shorty"
is 5' 2''. Witnesses also gave differing accounts how
the "suspicious African-American male" was dressed,
couldn't identify Vernon in a photographic line up,
couldn't be sure how many assailants were present, and
disagreed where each other was at the time of the
The prosecution's star witness in its effort to
secure death was Vernon's own girlfriend who
testified in order to avoid prosecution herself. But
she only claimed to see Vernon walk toward the hotel
and back with a bag containing a gun. She did not see
Vernon has consistently maintained that he did not
perform the shootings. Considering the contradictory
witness testimony, the lack of any real evidence, and
Baltimore County's disgusting record Vernon's claim
isn't "farfetched." It is cause for alarm.
Contact Vernon at:
Vernon Lee Evans
401 East Madison Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21202
Contact the Governor at:
Office of the Governor
Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
Annapolis, Maryland 21401-1925
Toll Free 1.800.811.8336
MD Relay 1.800.735.2258
Email: governor at gov.state.md.us
(source: Campaign to End the Death Penalty)
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