[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA, WIS., N.C., IND., MO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 8 10:20:23 CST 2005
Mexicans on Death Row to Get Hearings----Bush Tells Texas Courts to Review
Cases of 51 Denied Consular Aid
The Bush administration has announced that it will attempt to defuse a
long-simmering international dispute over the death penalty by instructing
Texas state courts to give 51 Mexicans facing the death penalty new
hearings on their claims that they were denied meetings with diplomats
from their nation, in violation of international law.
In a Feb. 28 brief filed with the Supreme Court, the administration said
the United States would bow to a 2004 ruling by the International Court of
Justice in The Hague, also known as the World Court, which found that
Texas officials violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by
not providing the Mexicans with consular access. That treaty, ratified by
the United States in 1969, provides that "consular officers shall have the
right to visit a national of the sending State who is in prison, custody
or detention, to converse and correspond with him and to arrange for his
The situation of Mexicans facing capital punishment in Texas has been a
sore point in relations between Washington and Mexico City. Mexico argues
that its citizens would fare better in Texas courts if they got aid from
home-country diplomats. The consular-access issue has also flared between
the United States and its European allies, who are generally critical of
the death penalty, especially in Bush's home state. Germany pressed and
won a World Court case in 2001 over a German national who faced a capital
trial in Arizona without consular access.
More broadly, the United States has been under fire in international
forums for the Bush administration's perceived refusal to adhere to
international legal norms in such places as the prison for accused
terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"The government of Mexico is very satisfied. . . . Without doubt this is a
step that Mexico has looked for," said Arturo Dager, spokesman for the
Foreign Ministry in Mexico City. He said that although it does not
necessarily mean the sentences will be changed, Bush's decision to review
them is "more in line with international law."
Ana Maria Salazar, a political analyst in Mexico City, said that "if
President Bush doesn't commute [the sentences], there could be a big
backlash" for Mexican President Vicente Fox. She said that by raising the
death penalty issue ahead of this month's meeting with Fox, Bush has taken
what had been a dormant issue in Mexico and raised expectations of U.S.
In its Supreme Court brief in the Mexicans' case, Medellin v. Dretke, No.
04-5928, the Bush administration declared that the president has concluded
that, on this issue, it is in the United States' interest to provide
foreigners with consular access, lest such access be denied to U.S.
"In this case, the President, the nation's representative in foreign
affairs, has determined that the United States will comply with the ICJ
decision," says the brief, drafted by Acting Solicitor General Paul D.
Clement with input from State Department lawyers. "Compliance serves to
protect the interests of United States citizens abroad, promotes the
effective conduct of foreign relations, and underscores the United States'
commitment in the international community to the rule of law."
Bush's nod to international opinion involves a sweeping assertion of
executive authority within the United States, in that, without any
legislative action by Congress, he is issuing instructions to the courts
of a sovereign state as to how to treat defendants. Texas courts, the
president says, should review the Mexicans' cases to see if the lack of
consular access affected their trials or sentencing.
His approach would also greatly reduce the role of the Supreme Court,
which has been asked by attorneys for one of the Mexicans, Jose E.
Medellin, to rule that the decision of the World Court is all the
authority individual foreigners need to get a new hearing in U.S. state
"It is for the President, not the courts, to determine whether the United
States should comply with the decision, and, if so, how," the
administration's brief says.
It is unclear whether the Supreme Court, which is protective of its role
in interpreting federal treaty obligations, will be willing to go along
with Bush's suggestion.
(source: Washington Post)
Kids who are adult enough to kill should be executed
The U.S. Supreme Court barred states from executing people for crimes
committed when they were juveniles. An editorial in The Daily News urged
Gov. Rick Perry to call a moratorium on the death penalty.
I think kids should be executed if they think that they are adult enough
and big and bad to go out and rape, rob, kill and steal and anything else.
Why not? I think the ruling should stay.
If they commit the crime, they should be punished
I think that whole thing of exempting minor murderers stinks because
killing is in the heart - not in their age. They can commit the crime;
they should do the time.
Peewee Kershaw----La Marque
State should support respect for life
Congratulations on your support for the Supreme Courts ruling on the death
penalty for juveniles.
Im only sorry that it didnt apply in time to save the life of Napoleon
I live in Northern Ireland, where we know all about death and destruction.
But I dont know anyone who would want the brutality of the death penalty.
I love the United States and visit at least once a year. I will never see
Texas, however, because I regard it as savage. I prefer to go to places
that dont subscribe to the ridiculous principle that you reinforce respect
for human life by strapping someone to a table and injecting them with
Mike Philpott----Bangor, Ireland
Ruling was just a travesty
I would just like to say I think it is a travesty what the Supreme Court
did. No matter what age you are, if you murder someone, you should have to
pay the penalty. I think it is just a travesty.
Clarence Ghirardi----League City
(source: Galveston County Daily News)
Juveniles and death penalty
Juveniles and death penalty Q.
Last week, a divided Supreme Court (5-4) banned executions for killers who
were under age 18 when they committed murder, saying such executions
violate the Constitution's protections against cruel and unusual
punishment. What do you think?
Amber Bennett, 14, North Stanly High School, New London: I do believe that
they should ban the execution of killers under 18. Young kids still have
some learning to do. Yes, they should know right from wrong if their
parents teach them. But some might not know what they are doing. Yes, the
victim's family may want the guilty person to be executed. Yes, they
should be put into jail to suffer the consequences. But they shouldn't be
killed for it.
Quinn Patrick Foster, 15, Sun Valley High, Monroe: The Supreme Court was
wrong. If a perpetrator commits a crime which merits capital punishment,
age should not be a factor. Cruel and unusual punishment would be imposing
the death penalty for a lesser offense. When one individual recklessly or
without merit causes the death of another, there needs to be a fatal
consequence, no matter the age.
Will Stancil, 19, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem: Sentencing
individuals to die for crimes committed as minors is clearly illogical.
How can we claim children must face full adult responsibility for their
actions, if we don't also trust them with other adult responsibilities,
such as driving, voting, drinking and supporting themselves?
Jennifer Inskeep, 11, Randolph Middle, Charlotte: The high court was right
to overturn the death penalty for juvenile killers. The part of the brain
that judges between right and wrong isn't fully developed until 20.
Juveniles might not fully understand that it is wrong to kill someone.
There is still time to teach juveniles that it is wrong to kill. But the
government killing people isn't the way to show them that.
Jamie McSpadden, 19, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.: The Supreme Court
reasoned that minors are psychologically immature and, therefore, cannot
be executed. Justice Kennedy put it best: "When a juvenile commits a
heinous crime, the State can exact forfeiture of some of the most basic
liberties, but the State cannot extinguish his life and his potential to
attain a mature understanding of his own humanity." I am proud to be an
American when our highest court stands up to stop the morally
reprehensible practice of executing minors.
David Scott, 14, North Stanly High, New London: I believe that banning
execution of killers under 18 is preposterous! The Supreme Court says it
was banned because the killers' brains are not yet developed enough to
realize completely what they are doing. If they have the brains to kill
then they need to be killed themselves.
(source: Opinion, Charlotte Observer)
Dance grows out of conviction to inform
Most dances are about dance, and if not about that, they are about love.
Milwaukee native David Popalisky uses an image of a clock to demonstrate
the slow passage of time for inmates in his dance "Barred from Life."
"Barred from Life" is about a social issue: false conviction and
David Popalisky will perform "Barred from Life" Friday and Saturday at the
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. Popalisky, a Milwaukee native who
now is chairman of the dance program at Santa Clara University in
California, created "Barred from Life" with Cookie Ridolfi.
Ridolfi is neither a dancer nor a choreographer. She is a law professor at
Santa Clara and director of the Northern California Innocence Project, one
of a number of organizations around the country that seek to free wrongly
"Barred from Life" came about because she and Popalisky kept crossing
paths at their children's school.
"I knew she was in the law school, and she knew I was in dance," Popalisky
said, in a conference-call interview, also involving Ridolfi, from
California. "One day we started talking about tenure. Lawyers write
articles to get tenure, and she wondered what dancers have to do."
They have to make dances. Popalisky was between projects when Ridolfi
suggested that a dance piece about wrongful imprisonment might drive home
the human side of it.
Doing the research
Popalisky pursued the idea, and Ridolfi pointed him toward exonerated
former inmates in California and to contacts in the network of
organizations dealing with this issue around the country. The Center for
Wrongful Conviction, at Northwestern University, was especially helpful.
He spent time with 10 former inmates who had been exonerated, and in some
cases members of their families. Among them are James Newsome, who spent
15 years in prison in Illinois for a murder he did not commit; Delbert
Tibbs, who spent almost three years on death row in Florida; and Gary
Gauger, who, after an all-night interrogation, made statements that police
and prosecutors claimed constituted a confession. He was convicted in his
parents' deaths and spent about three years in prison in Illinois.
None of these men got off on technicalities; they were freed because
someone else admitted to the crimes or because technical evidence proved
"It was critical to meet the exonerees," Popalisky said. "I wanted to get
at their feelings while they were being interrogated and while they were
in jail. Were they ticked off? Anxious? Did they think everything would
work out, because they were innocent?
"To be honest, it was a little scary to approach them. Why should they
talk to me? Who the hell am I, some dancer? But they did. For some, it was
a wonderful opportunity to just talk. For others, I'm sure it was painful
to relive the experiences."
Popalisky shot more than 15 hours of video. Parts of it run during the
50-minute piece. He is in front of the screen, interpreting in movement.
Original music by True Rosaschi is woven into the texture.
"It's really a dance docudrama, a hybrid form," Popalisky said. "I tried
to tone down the danciness of it. I'm not trying to make pretty pictures.
In one of the prison sections, I have this whole sequence of push-ups. I
do it again a little later; I'm sure the audience thinks, 'Oh, no, not
that again.' But I wanted to get the terrible routine of prison, where
every day is the same."
He's done the show at Santa Clara University and at the national
conference of the American Association of Law Schools. On both occasions,
ex-inmates became part of the piece at the very end and stayed on to
converse with the audience. Popalisky expects at least 2 to be part of the
"They want to help," Ridolfi said. "My experience is that they're really
great guys. They're grateful to the people who've helped them, and they
want everyone to know about the problem. But I feel bad sometimes, because
every time we trot them out to do something, they have to tell that story
again. It needs to be told, but we don't want to use them."
Ridolfi gave more to the piece than a list of contacts. She attended
rehearsals and wasn't shy about offering opinions on matters artistic, as
well as legal and political.
"I'm not a dancer and my friends are not dancers," Ridolfi said. "Their
first reaction was: What? 'The Dance of the Exonerated'? But David and I
became bonded through this." She laughed as she added: "It wasn't long
before I was bossing him around."
"She'd say that this section wasn't working or this one was, and I trusted
her and believed her," Popalisky said. "She helped me get at the crux of
the issue. And when I did it in San Diego, I found her on her hands and
knees scrubbing the dance floor before the performance."
"The piece doesn't just tell a story," Ridolfi said. "It invites you to
experience what these guys went through. These people are among us. They
really are our neighbors, and by the end you get a very good sense of
"I've been changed by meeting these men," Popalisky said. "And the
audience has been, too."
After Milwaukee, Popalisky will perform "Barred from Life" in Chicago and
Santa Cruz, Calif. For more information, visit the show's Web site,
(source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Death-penalty bill filed again in House----Sponsors are hopeful for
North Carolina needs to take a pause from executing convicted murderers,
according to a death-penalty moratorium bill filed in the House on Monday.
The measure is similar to one filed two years ago and approved by the
state Senate at the time. The House, however, didn't take up the bill in
part due to a power-sharing arrangement between Democratic and Republican
This year, with Mecklenburg County Democrat Jim Black as the sole speaker,
bill supporters believe they have a better chance at a hearing and a vote.
"I've had no signals to the contrary," said House Democratic Leader Joe
Hackney of Orange County, one of the bill's primary sponsors. "There's no
harm in it, except that executions would be ... delayed."
Judges have removed two men from death row since 2002 after allegations
that prosecutors withheld evidence that may have undermined their cases.
The bill would suspend executions for two years while legislators study
issues such as prosecutorial misconduct and whether sentencing is
determined unfairly by race.
(source: Associated Press)
Wallace's father once thought son innocent
For 25 years, the father of convicted killer Donald Ray Wallace Jr.
believed his son was an innocent man, wrongly sentenced to death for the
murders of Theresa and Patrick Gilligan and their 2 small children. But a
week ago, when he finally heard his son publicly confess to the crime,
Donald Wallace Sr. gave up hope that his son would be spared the death
penalty, scheduled for Thursday morning in Michigan City, Ind. He threw
away a 5-page written plea he was about to send the governor of Indiana,
outlining his son's defense and asking for his son's life to be spared.
"I just got rid of it. It went down the drain, and my heart went with it,"
Wallace Sr. said. "When I finally heard Donnie say it, how could I deny
it?" Now, just two days before his son is to be executed, Wallace wants
people to know that he still loves his son, and prays his son will soon
"Donnie's asked for God's forgiveness," said Wallace. "As a Christian, I
have to believe that if he's truly remorseful, God will forgive him and
that when he dies, the Lord will take him to heaven." It's a prayer, he
predicts, that may bring a bitter reaction from those who remember how the
Gilligans were slain in their North Side home during a burglary gone bad.
Patrick Gilligan, 30, was shot in the head and beaten with a barbell.
Theresa was shot twice. Their children, Lisa, 5, and Gregory, 4, were tied
together with a vacuum cord and each shot in the back of the head. "I know
there are people who want him to die and think he'll burn in hell," said
Wallace. "I can't believe that. I've been praying for so long that he'd
get right with the Lord, and so many others have been praying for that
too. I think our prayers are being answered."
Wallace says his prayers are not just for his son, but for healing for his
own family and for the family of the Gilligans. "I know they're hurting,''
said Wallace Sr. "I know they're in pain, but I don't think my son's death
is going to make it better for them."
Still, he understands their pain and anger. He remembers hearing the news
of the Gilligan murders just hours after police discovered the crime, but
before knowing it was his 22-year-old son who had be arrested for it. "I
remember thinking, 'They ought to take the guy who did this and hang
him,'" recalls Wallace Sr. "Little did I know it was my son."
After his arrest, on Jan. 15, 1980, Wallace Jr. called his father from the
jail. "He said, 'Dad, you're going hear a lot of bad things about me, but
there's one thing I want you to know: I wasn't the one who pulled the
trigger.' " And the father said he believed those words for 25 years. Then
two weeks ago, he heard his son had given an interview to an Indianapolis
television reporter, admitting the crime. Wallace also read excerpts from
letters his son had sent to Diana Harrington, sister of Theresa Gilligan,
describing details of how he shot and killed the family. "Up till 2 weeks
ago, I thought he positively didn't do it," said Wallace Sr. "Once I heard
him say it, I knew he wasn't lying."
Wallace wrote his son, urging him to pray and to ask God for forgiveness.
He also reached out to members of his church, the Point Township Church of
the Nazarene, to ask for their prayers and support.
Wallace Sr. also wants people to know he and his family understand the
pain of murder victims more than anyone may know. In 1989, his wife's
niece, Stacy Forsee, and Forsee's two young children were murdered. Forsee
and her children frequently visited Wallace Sr. and his wife.
"It just tore us up," said Wallace Sr. "Just like the relatives of the
Gilligans, I felt that same pain." Wallace will be at his Posey County
home when his son is executed for the Gilligan murders. His son asked him
not to attend the execution, scheduled to begin shortly after 12:01 a.m
"Donnie just wants to get it over with now," said Wallace Sr. "He told us
he doesn't want us to do anything to try to stop it. He said, 'If they
kill me, I'll finally be out of here.'"
(source: Courier & Press)
Trial begins in slaying of airplane mechanic
A man currently on Death Row in Texas went on trial Monday in Marion
Superior Court in the killing of an airplane mechanic at a home in
Prosecutors say Joshua Maxwell, 26, and his girlfriend abducted Robby L.
Bott, 45, forced him to take them shopping, then strangled him in
Jurors were seated Monday for Maxwell's trial on charges of murder,
criminal confinement, arson and theft.
"Maxwell took everything Robby Bott had," Deputy Prosecutor Rom Byron
said, "and when he didn't have anything more to give, Maxwell took his
After killing Bott, police say, Maxwell and Tessie McFarland, 25, went on
a multistate crime spree. They killed an off-duty jailer in Texas and were
caught in San Francisco after a shootout with police Oct. 17, 2000.
Maxwell was sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder of Bexar County
(Texas) Sgt. Rudy Lopes II. He was brought back to Indianapolis for the
McFarland is serving a 40-year sentence in Texas. She goes on trial May 16
in Bott's slaying and other crimes.
(source: Indianapolis Star)
New DNA test key to execution or exoneration
For 7 years, Clay County lawyer Fred Duchardt fought to get death-row
inmate Brian Kinder a DNA test that would prove him innocent or guilty.
Time and again, courts ruled against him. Then on Thursday, Duchardt
received unexpected news: The Missouri Supreme Court, without explanation,
had issued an order last Tuesday approving the test. Now, a St. Louis
judge is to order it within 30 days.
Results could take weeks to months to arrive. They will determine whether
Kinder, 45, is executed or exonerated in the beating death of his
"We're willing to take the risk," Duchardt said. "Either way, the right
The order, he said, is the 1st time the state high court has spoken on
whether inmates whose cases involved obsolete DNA testing can get modern
and certain DNA testing.
Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, whose office opposed the new test for
Kinder, said he would work to get it done and "once again confirm he was a
Nixon is concerned, he said, that "there are new scientific methods every
day, and I don't think every one of them should bring on delays and
A Jefferson County jury convicted Kinder of first-degree murder in the
Dec. 22, 1990, death of Cynthia Williams. Her body was found in the
bedroom of her Crystal City home south of St. Louis. Apparently beaten
with a pipe, she died in the early morning.
At Kinder's 1992 trial, an expert testified that there was only a one in
8.9 million chance that semen in the victim belonged to anyone but Kinder,
her estranged husband.
The defense argued that the test results shown at trial were altered from
the original results. Plus, one spot on the results could be read as not
matching Kinder's DNA, the defense said.
Since then, that kind of DNA test has been replaced by another, which in
turn has been replaced by yet another.
Today's "short tandem repeat" DNA test can be used on far smaller samples
and virtually identifies a person, said Frank Booth, a manager at the
Kansas City Police Crime Lab. It is done by machine instead of by hand and
looks at 13 different genetic locations. The oldest test looked at as few
as four, said Booth, who explained the differences in an affidavit in
Chances of the newest tests being wrong are one in a quadrillion, which is
a million billion.
Kinder always maintained he was innocent. In 1998 a judge appointed
Duchardt to represent him on appeals. Duchardt, 53, has been making such
appeals since 1985.
Missouri law gives inmates the right to DNA tests to prove innocence, but
courts largely have limited new tests to those who lacked previous DNA
In 2003 a Missouri appeals court ruled that Kinder did not qualify for
several reasons. For one thing, it ruled, his defense team could have had
its own DNA testing done for trial but did not.
It also said: "We perceive no legislative intent to allow serial retesting
of evidence due to a change in DNA technology."
The Missouri Supreme Court chose not to take an appeal from that ruling.
Nixon later asked the Supreme Court to set Kinder's execution date.
Duchardt argued that executing Kinder without the test violated his
Last week's ruling in effect overturns the appeals court and indicates
that the state law allowing inmate DNA tests might be more broadly
interpreted, Duchardt said.
Now Kinder gets his chance. Duchardt will be there with him until the
nail-biting end - death or freedom.
His high-pressure job seems to require a touch of madness, Duchardt said.
But then he quotes Gen. George Patton's battlefield comment: "God help me,
I love it."
(source: Kansas City Star)
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