[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----TEXAS, N.C., N. MEX., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Mar 8 16:48:52 CST 2005
Administration wants Texas hearings for Mexicans on death row
The Bush administration is asking Texas to conduct new hearings for 51
Mexicans on death row who say they were denied legal help from their
consulates in violation of international law.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague last year ruled that the
convictions violated the 1963 Vienna Convention by not providing the
Mexicans with consular access. In 1969, the Senate ratified the treaty,
which requires such access for Americans detained abroad and foreigners
arrested in the United States.
The Supreme Court filing is an attempt by the administration to quell
international criticism and comes a month before justices were to hear
arguments in the case of Texas death row inmate Jose Medellin, who is
challenging his conviction and sentence as a due process violation.
Medellin is backed in his appeal by dozens of countries, legal groups and
human rights organizations, as well as former American diplomats and the
The filing by Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement argues that it is
President Bush's decision, not the court's, to determine whether the
United States should comply with international law. Nevertheless, the
administration has chosen to do so in this case, states the Feb. 28
filing, which was circulated Monday by the court.
"Compliance serves to protect the interest of United States citizens
abroad, promotes the effective conduct of foreign relations and
underscores the United States' commitment in the international community
in the rule of law," Clement wrote.
The filing states that Medellin and other Mexican nationals can now seek a
fresh review in state court, which will then reconsider their claims in a
way that "the president has determined is an appropriate means to fulfill
this nation's treaty obligations."
Texas attorneys had argued it was too late for Medellin to bring the
challenge, because he failed at his trial to file objections that the
Mexican government was not told of his arrest.
Medellin was 1 of 5 gang members sentenced to death for raping and
murdering Jennifer Ertman, 14, and Elizabeth Pena, 16, in Houston in 1993.
There are 118 foreigners from 32 countries on death rows in America.
The case is Medellin v. Dretke, 04-5928.
Prosecutor: Driver in smuggling case 'heartless and evil'
The driver of a tractor-trailer carrying more than 70 illegal immigrants
was the most "heartless and evil" member of a smuggling ring because he
didn't help his passengers as they slowly died, a prosecutor said Tuesday
in his opening statements at the man's trial.
When the truck was discovered abandoned at a truck stop about 125 miles
southwest of Houston in May 2003, 17 of the people inside had died of
dehydration, hypothermia and suffocation, including a 5-year-old boy. Two
others died later.
The driver, Tyron Williams, faces 58 counts of harboring and transporting
illegal immigrants. If convicted, he is the only one of 14 defendants who
could receive the death penalty, which federal law allows in fatal
Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Rodriguez told jurors that Williams
deliberately avoided learning the number of people the smugglers put in
his truck as part of his effort to not get caught.
Rather than help the desperate immigrants as they kicked out a signal
light and cried for help, Rodriguez said, Williams demanded more money
from other ring operators because he feared his human cargo would damage
"At no time during that entire trip did he ever open the doors to see what
was going on," Rodriguez said. "He was the most heartless, evil and cruel
member of the organization."
Williams' attorney, Craig Washington, told the jurors his client was not
responsible for the deaths even though he transported the illegal
Washington said Williams would have helped the immigrants who screamed for
help and tried to claw their way out of the hot, airless trailer, but he
didn't speak Spanish and didn't understand their cries. He said Williams
offered them water but couldn't understand what was happening to them.
Williams' attorneys have argued that he was singled out for the death
penalty because he is black. Most of the other defendants were Hispanic.
The trial of Williams, 34, a Jamaican citizen who lives in Schenectady,
New York, had been postponed 4 times since its original January start date
because of appeals over the possible death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court
declined to hear the case on Monday.
The trial could last 6 to 8 weeks.
(source for both: Associated Press)
Panel approves innocence plan--General Assembly will get proposal
Officials from across the criminal justice system found enough consensus
Monday to forward a proposal to state lawmakers creating a review panel to
evaluate criminal defendants' innocence claims.By a vote of 19-9, the N.C.
Actual Innocence Commission agreed to send a bill to the legislature that
would make North Carolina the first state in the country with an agency to
screen and investigate innocence claims. The idea for such an entity came
after a series of wrongly convicted people were released from prison,
including Alan Gell, who spent 9 years on death row but was later
acquitted of murder.
The commission was under some pressure Monday to approve the proposal,
which has to be introduced in the legislature by April 20 to be considered
this session. The commission would have had to wait two years before being
able to introduce the bill.
"It's the right thing for all of us to do. It's not right to wait two more
years," former Superior Court Judge Tom Ross said in support of the
Ross was joined by prosecutors, judges, defense lawyers, law professors
and law enforcement officials -- although some acknowledged support of the
concept with a bit of hesitation about the details. "Although I might feel
a little bit uncomfortable, I can still hold my head up and say I've done
what I think is right," Burlington Police Chief Mike Gauldin said.
The proposal was opposed by Wake District Attorney Colon Willoughby, Mel
Chilton with the N.C. Victim Assistance Network and some law enforcement
officials. While not opposed to an innocence review panel, they wanted
more time to garner support among their constituents, which they say is
key to making the proposal a reality.
"I think whatever we got is going to go to the General Assembly without
any broad base of support from victims, law enforcement or the district
attorneys. I think it's going to be doomed," Willoughby said. "Should we
be trying to do this fast or should we be trying to do this right?"
Melanie Thomas of the State Bureau of Investigation echoed Willoughby's
concerns. "When we introduce this bill, let's make sure we have the
support we need. I'm afraid at this point we don't."
In response, Ross, now executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds
Foundation Inc., said the legislative process would allow those groups to
raise any remaining concerns and have them addressed by lawmakers.
"There's a long road left ahead," Ross said. "There's plenty of time."
The N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission would investigate inmates' innocence
claims. The results would be evaluated by a 7-member panel, whose members
would be appointed by the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and
include a prosecutor, a judge, a defense lawyer and a victims' advocate.
As a deterrent for false innocence claims, a defendant would have to waive
the attorney-client privilege, and any evidence that the defendant
committed other criminal activity would be forwarded to law enforcement
agencies for possible investigation.
If five of the seven panel members find "sufficient evidence of factual
innocence to merit judicial review," the panel will forward the claim to a
three-judge panel for a public hearing.
(source: News Observer)
Senate panel: Pass death-penalty ban
An effort to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico came one step closer
to reality Monday when a Senate committee voted for a do-pass
recommendation for a bill that would replace capital punishment with a
sentence of life in prison without parole.
The Senate Rules Committee voted 4-2 in favor of House Bill 576 sponsored
by Rep. Gail Beam, Albuquerque.
Monday's vote was along party lines - Democrats in favor, Republicans
But one Republican senator who missed the vote because he was tied up in
another committee said Monday he is considering voting for the bill.
Sen. Steve Komadina of Rio Rancho said he would probably vote for Beam's
bill if some amendments were added. "And I'd probably vote against it if
my amendments aren't adopted," he said.
Komadina said he would like to see more "aggravating circumstances" that
would qualify a murderer for life in prison without parole. These include
deliberately murdering a child under 13, murdering a law enforcement
officer whether or not the officer was on duty, multiple murders and
"heinous crimes that defy human understanding."
The bill now goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where prospects for
the legislation look good.
The Judiciary panel includes 2 senators - John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, and
Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque - who voted for the bill on the Rules
Committee; 2 outspoken advocates for repealing the death penalty, Sens.
Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque , and Senate Majority Michael Sanchez,
D-Belen ; and two senators who voted to repeal the death penalty 4 years
ago, Richard Martinez, D-Espaola , and Lidio Rainaldi, D-Gallup.
The bill could have a tougher time on the Senate floor. A similar
death-penalty repeal bill lost by 1 vote in 2001.
And even if it passes, to become law it must be signed by Gov. Bill
Richardson , who is in favor of keeping capital punishment on the books.
Voting in favor of the death-penalty repeal measure were Grubesic, Lopez
and 2 other Albuquerque Democrats - Sens. Dede Feldman and Gerald Ortiz y
Voting against the measure were Republican Sens. Rod Adair of Roswell and
Kent Cravens of Albuquerque.
While groups representing churches - including the New Mexico Catholic
Conference of Bishops and the New Mexico Conference of Churches - were on
hand to testify against the death penalty , many denominations support
capital punishment, Adair noted.
"Please don't impugn to your opponents' bad motives and yourselves'
purity," Adair told backers of the bill.
"I was ambivalent about the death penalty until I heard the testimony
today," Grubesic told the committee. "But I see now how, because of the
death penalty, we glorify the killers."
"We create a cult of death around these idiots. Look at Terry Clark. He
manipulated the system and the media for years, and then he found God in
prison like all these idiots do. Terry Clark can find God in prison and go
to heaven? That's ridiculous . We ought to let people like him rot in
prison for the rest of his life."
Clark - a child rapist and murderer who killed 9-year-old Dena Lynn Gore
of Artesia in 1986 - was lethally injected in 2001. His was the 1st and
only legal execution in the state since 1960.
(source: The New Mexican)
End executions and help victims
As people of faith, we call on state legislators and the governor to place
victims before those who have committed murder.
In support of a justice system that is both humane and restorative, we
urge New Mexico to replace the death penalty with life without parole, as
drafted in House Bill 576.
As pastors, we uphold the victims of violent crime and their family
members in their grief and suffering and promote measures that will help
their healing. That is why we support the 2005 Catastrophic Crime & Family
Restitution Program and House Bills 576, 577 and 356/578. Under this
program, state resources that are currently spent on legal fees related to
death penalty cases would be redirected toward expanded services and
assistance to victims' families and loved ones.
Our state can provide the resources to allow victims' family members to
begin the deeply personal and spiritual process of reconciliation with
pain and grief.
This legislative session, let's take action and put our attention and
money toward those who need it: victims.
--The Rev. Barbara Dua, Director, N.M. Conference of Churches Archbishop
Michael J. Sheehan, Archdiocese of Santa Fe Bishop Donald E. Pelotte,
Diocese of Gallup Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, Diocese of Las Cruces
Now N.M. can shun death penalty
The United States has recently lost our distinction as the last nation on
earth to legally sanction the killing of children.
Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is no longer acceptable to
execute juvenile murderers.
The court relied on "evolving standards of decency" to reach its decision.
As in the court's earlier decisions eliminating the use of the death
penalty on certain classes of offenders, the trend, as standards of
decency evolve, is always away from government killing.
The citizens of New Mexico now have an opportunity to take a giant
evolutionary step in our own standards of decency by repealing the death
The state House of Representatives recently passed a bill that would
replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility
of parole for those convicted of the most serious crimes. Along with this
bill, the House also passed legislation providing additional support for
families of murder victims. Together, these bills demonstrate an evolving
standard of decency that recognizes the harm done to families who suffer
the brutal loss of a loved one, while eliminating the tremendous risk of
injustice inherent in the death penalty.
As these bills move on to the New Mexico Senate and the governor, I hope
these elected officials will continue to lead us toward a higher standard
of decency - one that recognizes that justice is more that mere vengeance,
and punishment does not require us to become killers ourselves.
D. Eric Hannum, Attorney, Albuquerque
(source: Letters to the Editor, Albuquerque Tribune)
Killer's Execution No Closure For Victim's Daughter----After 17 Years,
Bradford Still Keeps Mother Close To Her Heart
The man who raped, robbed and killed her mother 17 years ago was executed
Tuesday, bringing up both horrifying and happy memories for Glenda
Happy because Bradford, now a mother of 5 herself, holds her mother, Mary,
tightly in her heart.
"I miss her. She was beautiful to me," Bradford said in her only local
interview with News 5's Juliette Vara.
Bradford treasures a small, aged photo, about the only picture she has of
"The most wonderful person I ever met, not because she was my mother, but
because of her heart. She has left me with that," Bradford said.
Horrifying because of the circumstances of her mother's death.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, 1987, Bradford was expecting her mother for dinner
when there was a knock on the door.
It was the police with news that her mother had been raped and murdered
inside her Over-the-Rhine apartment.
William Smith stabbed Mary Bradford about 10 times, then raped her as she
lay in a pool of blood bleeding to death.
"I'm trying to live it, to be there, to imagine how she felt and what was
on her mind," Bradford said.
But it's too hard.
"It was about what he wanted. He saw money and he saw that he could have
something more," Bradford said.
Bradford said Smith has never made contact with her family or apologized
for what he did.
Today, after numerous failed appeals, Smith died at 10:19 a.m. by lethal
Bradford fights back tears, yet admits Smith's execution will not bring
closure or justice. Nothing ever will.
Her nephew planned to drive up to Lucasville to represent the family at
Bradford didn't go. It wasn't in her heart.
(source: Channel Cincinnati)
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