[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS, USA, ILL., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sat Mar 12 11:47:59 CST 2005
TEXAS----new death sentence
Man gets death penalty for slaying of infant
A jury in Sherman today ordered execution for a man accused in a triple
slaying and convicted of one of the killings.
Jurors on Monday found Andre Lee Thomas guilty of capital murder in the
stabbing death of his estranged wife's 1-year-old daughter.
The victim was Leyha Marie Hughes.
Thomas hasn't been tried in the deaths of his wife, 20-year-old Laura
Christine Thomas, and their 4-year-old son, Andre Lee Boren.
The attacks happened last March at the woman's apartment in Sherman.
The victims' hearts were cut out, and 2 of them were found at a house
where Thomas lived.
Authorities say that Thomas, who underwent surgery for self-inflicted stab
wounds, ripped his right eye out of its socket while he was jailed.
(source: KLTV News)
Atwood is kids' hero
Students from Auburn High School in Auburn, Mass., want to give public
thanks to Houstonian David Atwood for his bravery in protesting the death
penalty at the execution of Anthony Fuentes in Huntsville in November
2004. His peaceful civil disobedience and subsequent serving of jail time
demonstrated his moral convictions. He is truly an inspiration.
JOE DONAHUE and STEPHANIE ROCHE----members of Auburn High School Amnesty
International, Auburn, Mass.
(source: Letter to the Editor, Houston Chronicle)
Teen death penalty was rightfully removed
In this world that often seems incomprehensible, somehow what is
inherently right rises to the surface. Sometimes, despite ourselves, the
cosmos brings us all kicking and screaming to a higher moral level.
So it was with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week that exempted 16-
and 17-year-olds from the death penalty. New Hampshire was only one of 19
states that allowed for the execution of individuals who committed their
crimes while under the age of 18, although the people of this state,
through their elected officials, had voted to change that indefensible law
a year ago.
At that time, then-Gov. Craig Benson vetoed the change, claiming that
those who committed the ultimate crime deserved to suffer the ultimate
penalty. There are still those who agree with him, but, thankfully, the
majority of the Supreme Court took that decision out of their hands.
It should be noted that New Hampshire, to our knowledge, has never
executed a juvenile and has not put an adult to death since 1939. Still,
having such a law on the books is something akin to not recognizing Martin
Luther King Jr.s birthday - it says something not particularly flattering
about the people who live in the state.
To our credit, we corrected the MLK situation several years ago and were
on the verge of bringing our death penalty laws into sync with most of the
civilized world. The Supreme Court beat us to the punch, but that is OK,
The court essentially said Benson and those who shared his death penalty
views were wrong because they failed to take two things into
consideration: 1st, that there are differences in culpability simply based
on the age and mental development of the perpetrator; and 2nd, that the
option of certifying a young offender as an adult and sentencing him or
her to life in prison existed.
Prison for a man or woman under the age of 18 is undoubtedly a hell few
can imagine. and it is in no way letting the offender off.
The killing of a law enforcement officer, the primary situation under
which someone can be sentenced to death in this state, undermines the
ability of society to keep its citizens safe. It is a heinous crime for
which the harshest of penalties should be invoked.
But there have always been mitigating circumstances, and the justices of
the Supreme Court - to their credit and on their 2nd pass at this issue -
recognized that age is inherently one of them. We congratulate them on
making a reasoned and compassionate ruling.
We also acknowledge the sponsors of legislation that would have removed
New Hampshire from the list of states and third-world countries that kill
their children in the name of justice. Their efforts have finally been
(source: Editorial, The Rockingham (N.H.) News)
Foreigners On US Death Row No Longer Have Right to Make International
Showing its impatience with outside interference in the US system of
capital punishment, the Bush administration has pulled out of an
international protocol that allowed foreigners on death row to take their
cases to the World Court.
In a 2-paragraph letter to Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general,
Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State told him that the US "hereby
withdraws" from the optional protocol, part of the 1969 Vienna Convention
on consular relations. It stipulates that signatories must allow the
International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague - the World Court - to
have the final say in cases where foreign citizens say they have been
denied access to their own consular officials when jailed abroad.
The letter, dated 7 March, came 3 weeks before the US Supreme Court was
due to hear the case of Ernesto Medellin, a Mexican on death row in Texas,
who is asking for a World Court ruling made last year in favour of Mexico
to be enforced. But the appeal may now be moot.
Just 10 days ago the Bush administration, not known for its friendliness
to international institution - astounded many observers by agreeing that
the Mr Medellin and 50 other Mexicans on US state death rows should be
granted new court hearings, in line with the ICJ demand. But those
hearings will be the last. The withdrawal, a State Department spokesman
said, would ensure that in future the ICJ would not be able to interfere
in cases involving foreigners, and thus "supervise or disrupt our domestic
There are currently 118 foreign nationals condemned to death in the US,
including one Briton, Linda Carty, who was born in St Kitts.
The withdrawal comes at a moment when outside pressures on the US judicial
system - in particular its use of capital punishment - are a highly
sensitive issue. Only 10 days ago the Supreme Court was fiercely
criticised by conservatives here when it banned the execution of juvenile
offenders, with a majority opinion that cited, among other reasons,
A similar attitude also partly explains Washington's enduring refusal to
subscribe to the International Criminal Court, set up under the aegis of
the UN, which it claims is another intrusion into US judicial sovereignty.
The Medellin case has become an additional bone of contention between the
US and Mexico, when the 2 countries are already at odds over immigration
and cross-border crime. Washington's latest move was certain to feature
during Ms Rice's visit to Mexico City yesterday, which aimed to improve
bilateral relations ahead of a meeting between Vicente Fox, Mexico's
President, and President Bush at the latter's Texas ranch later this
The US had signed up to the Vienna protocol to protect its own citizens
abroad. Indeed, Washington was the 1st country to invoke it, when
Washington won a judgment from the ICJ against Iran when 52 US citizens
were taken hostage in Tehran in 1979. The US will not now be able to use
the convention to assist its citizens overseas.
(source: Independent Digital (UK) )
Prosecutor plans to seek execution
Peoria County State's Atty. Kevin Lyons said Friday he will seek the death
penalty against Larry Bright, who faces charges in the murders of 2 women
and who, police say, has confessed to 6 more.
Bright, 38, is charged in the murders of Linda Neal, who was found
strangled along a road Sept. 25, and Brenda Erving, whose body was found
in October in rural Peoria County.
Prosecutors said Bright lured women to a guest house behind his mother's
Peoria home with the promise of cash or drugs, have sex with them and
strangle them. He allegedly dismembered some of the bodies and burned
them, scattering the ash and bone at various sites.
Because of the condition of the remains, it may take some time to
positively identify them, Lyons said.
(source: Chicago Tribune)
Officer: Administrators ignored snow pile used in death row escape
Administrators at the state prison housing Ohio's death row ignored a pile
of snow for weeks before two inmates used the snow to hide a homemade
ladder in an unsuccessful escape attempt, according to a prison employee
disciplined for not doing enough to stop the escape.
The problem of snow in the outdoor recreation area had never been
addressed, the employee, Ronald Pawlus, said in a written response to his
The state moved death row to the Mansfield Correctional Institution after
the 1993 riots at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
Pawlus, a unit manager, said no one considered the snow a problem until
Major John Morrison, the prison's chief of security, told him "in passing"
to remove the snow, Pawlus said in the report released by the Department
of Rehabilitation and Correction on Friday.
"The snow in the recreation cages had been there for several weeks and no
one had said anything about it until the Major commented on it," Pawlus
said in the report. "All of the administrative staff that had come through
and seen it must have seen no problem with it because no one said a word."
The prison system said Friday that both Pawlus and Morrison had been
demoted and would receive major cuts in pay for their role in failing to
prevent the Feb. 3 escape attempt.
Condemned killers Richard Cooey and Maxwell White used a ladder made of
bed sheets and rolled-up magazines hidden under the snow to escape from an
outdoor recreation cage before being stopped.
Warden Margaret Bradshaw said that as far as she knew other administrators
didn't see the snow.
"That wasn't part of our research. I can't prove one way or the other that
what he is saying there is telling the truth," Bradshaw said.
As the unit manager, Pawlus "was responsible for the operation of that
unit, and he failed to do that," she added.
Prison officials blamed "gross deficiencies in supervision" for the escape
attempt and reprimanded several administrators, including Bradshaw.
Her letter of reprimand said there was "a notable lack of mid-management
supervisory presence in the entire death row unit."
Pawlus also reported to Morrison that he'd been tipped ahead of time by a
death row informant that something was going to happen, the report said.
He said he felt he'd done the appropriate thing by going up the chain of
command, according to the report.
But Bradshaw said it wasn't enough.
"All of my staff know they can call me on the telephone, all of my staff
know if they see me in the institution they can talk to me," she said. "If
somebody would have called me and told me, 'This inmate gave me this
information,' I would have taken care of it."
Pawlus, 36, was demoted to a position working in an inmate clothing area
and had his pay cut from $56,700 annually to $34,694.
Morrison, 51, was demoted to a position managing prison shifts and had his
pay cut from $64,708 to $46,529.
A message was left with Morrison seeking comment. Pawlus' phone rang busy.
In a written response to prison officials, Morrison said he couldn't
respond to the charges because he was denied an extension to prepare for
his disciplinary hearing Tuesday.
A witness for Pawlus, a Mansfield prison employee identified as Greg
Morrow, said Pawlus was the most "staff-interactive Unit Manager" he had
ever seen on death row.
"Unit staff has been told in the past to get the snow out of the
recreation yards," Morrow said in the report. "Last year they made a snow
sculpture and we had to remove it. But to this day the snow still sits in
the recreation areas and no one is doing anything about it."
(source: Associated Press)
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