[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----OHIO, ALA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Mar 17 19:11:19 CST 2005
His last words stood out more than his last meal.
William H. Smith ate a sandwich stuffed with ham, turkey, bologna, tomato
Then, before the poison reached his heart, he said, "I am more than the
sum of what you see here."
You might have missed it.
Executions don't make the front page anymore. They don't even make the
front of the local section. That's how common they've become.
Ohio has killed 16 men since 1999. There's not much new to report except
what the convicted killer ate, as if it says something about him. I
suppose it says something about us. We have a smidgen of mercy. We give a
condemned man one last good meal.
Why not give him life without parole?
People want to believe that the death penalty deters crime.
Fear of the death penalty didn't stop a man from blowing away a mother
buying formula for her newborn months ago.
On Wednesday when I read about Smith's death by injection, a headline
inches away read, "Jury recommends life in fatal robbery." Dwight "Fats"
Whatley got life in prison for masterminding a double homicide. Another
headline read, "Killer jailed at least until age 103." Kenneth Green took
a plea deal. He bound, beat and slashed two women. Years earlier, he
killed a woman on Valentine's Day after she asked for a ride to a funeral.
Another headline read, "Woman died of gunshot wound."
So much for deterrence.
Even if it was a deterrent, I'd still oppose the death penalty. It's wrong
to kill a human being for punishment.
There is always room for redemption. That's what the man on the cross told
the man on the other cross.
Years ago, I attended a Lenten program where each week a different
minister preached about the last 7 statements Jesus uttered as he hung on
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Woman, behold thy son. Behold thy mother.
It is finished.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
Today you will be with me in paradise.
When the guilty man enduring capital punishment alongside Jesus asked,
"Remember me when you come into your kingdom," Jesus didn't preach about
justice. He showed mercy.
He promised the sinner something he didn't even promise his own mother -
Christians conveniently forget about being Christlike when it makes them
uncomfortable. They quote the old "eye for an eye" code of justice because
"turning the other cheek" is harder.
All during the presidential election last year, I read that the majority
of people in this country believe in the way, the truth and the life. They
talked as if the way of the cross still matters, flocked to see Mel
Gibson's version of it, convinced each other America is a Christian
There is nothing Christian about executing a human being. P> Why not show
William H. Smith mercy? Shouldn't we strive to be more like God and less
like Smith? The death penalty takes us the wrong way.
We didn't have to kill Smith. We could have kept him behind bars for life.
We could have shown him the mercy he didn't deserve, the mercy none of us
deserves, the mercy promised on that cross.
(source: Column, Regina Brett, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
Judge overrules jury, orders death in Phenix City retrial
A judge overruled a jury's recommendation and imposed the death sentence
for Vernon Lamar Yancey, convicted a second time despite claiming from the
witness stand that he was not the ski-masked killer caught on videotape.
Yancey, 35, of Phenix City, was given the death penalty Wednesday in his
retrial for the 1995 shooting death of grocery store clerk Mattie "Pee
Wee" Sports, 35, during a robbery. His 1997 conviction had been overturned
Circuit Judge George Green imposed the death sentence less than three
hours after Yancey, at the sentencing hearing, took the witness stand and
denied he was the man who killed Sports.
"I know what you heard and I know what you saw, but I didn't kill your
wife, sir," he said to the victim's husband, Williams Sports, referring to
the surveillance tape that shows a ski-masked robber walking to the
counter and firing a sawed-off 12-gauge shotgun.
He also said another clerk, Lisa Navas, who testified she recognized
Yancey behind the mask, was mistaken.
"She didn't see my face behind that mask," he said.
Yancey also condemned the performance of his attorneys, Michael Raiford
and Frank Patterson. He said they were so busy trying to keep him from
getting the death penalty that they neglected to show there was reasonable
doubt that he was even guilty of the offense.
Yancey said the attorneys failed to bring out the fact that the bruise on
his right chest, which the prosecution alleged was from the recoil of the
shotgun, was a part of fabricated evidence.
"I'm left-handed," he said. "If I was going to use a shotgun to kill an
innocent woman, it would have been on my left shoulder."
Yancey said he wanted those complaints on the record for the Alabama Court
of Appeals to consider.
His appeal will be handled by attorneys other than Raiford and Patterson,
who have asked permission to withdraw from the case.
(source: Associated Press)
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