[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----IND., GA., NEV.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 1 08:39:54 CST 2005
Kernan calls for further review of death penalty
Former Gov. Joe Kernan, who commuted the death sentences of Gary resident
Darnell Williams and 1 other man before leaving office this year, said he
still supports capital punishment in some cases.
But he said Monday there is a need to continue reviewing the state's death
penalty system to address the types of problems he encountered in the
"It is appropriate for us in Indiana to keep this door open," Kernan said.
Kernan spoke at the Indiana University-Indianapolis School of Law
following the premiere of "Countdown to an Execution," a documentary on
the Williams case that will be broadcast March 16 as part of the "American
Justice" series on the A&E channel.
Kernan commuted Williams' death sentence to life in prison July 2, which
amounted to the state's first commutation in 48 years. The move was done
with the support of a prosecutor and several of the jurors in the case,
and new evidence, including DNA testing that called into question
Williams' role in the Aug. 12, 1986, shooting deaths of John and Henrietta
Rease of Gary.
Kernan, who was greeted with a standing ovation, said his experience as
governor has left him more apprehensive and skeptical of the death penalty
There is need, he said, to pay closer attention to the intelligence levels
and mental health of inmates condemned to death. Both Williams and Michael
W. Daniels had IQs that hovered near, but just above, the level that would
have left them ineligible to be put to death in Indiana.
The quality of the defense counsel in these cases also needs to be
considered, he said, both at the trial and appellate levels.
While capital cases pass through several levels of appeal before
execution, Kernan said he is concerned the process becomes diluted as
later courts assume earlier reviews were complete. He is also
uncomfortable with prohibitions on the repeated review of certain facts in
"There can be no doubt," he said.
Kernan acknowledged the role politics plays when a request for clemency
"The pressure is there," he said.
Kernan said the support of the state parole board in the Williams case
made his decision for clemency easier, but it would not have made a
difference if the board's recommendation were different.
What he believes is needed is an ongoing review of the state's death
penalty system by the governor, lawmakers and judges.
He defended past changes to the system and earlier reviews, including one
done by state lawmakers a few years ago. But he said there was a lack of
consensus on some issues.
(source: Northwest Times)
April 21 execution date set for woman's murderer
The Indiana Supreme Court on Monday set an execution date of April 21 for
a man convicted in the 1987 torture death of a Terre Haute woman.
Bill J. Benefiel was sentenced to death for the killing of 18-year-old
Delores Wells. Prosecutors alleged at trial that Benefiel held Wells
captive 12 days, sexually abusing her before ending her life.
In November, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from
Benefiel, who had sought a new trial claiming his attorneys were
incompetent and prosecutors engaged in misconduct.
(source: Indianapolis Star)
Preparations continue for Oakwood killer's execution
The state Department of Corrections continues preparations for the
execution Tuesday night of condemned Oakwood killer Stephen Anthony
Officials say Mobley has already ordered his final meal.
The execution is scheduled at 7:05 p.m. at the Georgia Diagnostic and
Classification Center in Jackson - a small town off I-75 between Atlanta
Mobley is one of 112 men and 1 woman on death row in Georgia.
There have been 37b men executed in Georgia since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated the death penalty in 1973. If executed, Mobley will be the 15th
inmate put to death by lethal injection.
Mobley was condemned to death for the 1991 robbery-murder of John Copeland
Collins, an Oakwood pizza store manager he killed during a robbery.
On Friday, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles refused to commute his
(sourcve: Access North Georgia)
Nevada lawmaker takes on execution of juveniles
A Nevada legislator is trying to change the state law that allows for the
execution of juveniles convicted of capital crimes.
Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani says teenagers don't have the same
reasoning abilities as adults and should not be sentenced to death for
crimes committed before they turn 18.
Nevada is one of 19 states that allows executions of minors. The state has
not executed a juvenile since 1949. There is only 1 man awaiting execution
for a murder committed as a juvenile.
Michael Domingues was sentenced to death in 1994 for killing 2 people when
he was 16.
This is the 3rd time Giunchigliani has pushed to change the Nevada
The bill passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly twice, but has never made
it out of the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee.
Her bill would raise the minimum age for capital charges from 16 to 18.
(source: Associated Press)
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