[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----MD., USA, TENN., IND., S.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Mar 21 23:01:35 CST 2005
Court of Appeals upholds death penalty case ruling
When 2 county judges ruled last year that prosecutors have to include more
information in indictments if they want to seek the death penalty, the
county state's attorney decried the decisions, saying they were tantamount
to creating a new law.
Last week, a divided Maryland Court of Appeals refused to overturn one of
the rulings. The decision, largely a technical one, doesn't keep
prosecutors from seeking to execute Michael D. Henry. They plan to get
another indictment that meets the new standards.
But State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said it effectively forces his
prosecutors to allege in an indictment that a defendant is a "principal in
the first degree" - meaning he actually committed the killing, rather than
being an accomplice - even though there's no law requiring such language.
"We will follow the Anne Arundel County law and the rest of the state can
follow the rest of the state's law," Mr. Weathersbee said, adding that the
decision also could open the door for already convicted defendants to
appeal their death sentences.
The Attorney General's Office said it's concerned the Court of Appeals
decision will limit the state's ability to challenge trial courts'
rulings, even if they're clearly wrong.
Circuit Court Judge Joseph P. Manck ruled that Henry, 40, wasn't eligible
for execution in the 2002 stabbing death of Lorenzo Hazel because the
indictment didn't allege Henry was a principal in the 1st degree.
Mr. Hazel was stabbed more than 70 times Jan. 7, 2002, at the Maryland
House of Correction Annex in Jessup. Two men besides Henry have been
charged; one has pleaded guilty.
Judge Manck's ruling was based on one in an unrelated case in which Judge
Pamela L. North said prosecutors couldn't seek the death penalty for the
same reason. Judge North based her ruling on recent Supreme Court cases
holding prosecutors can't seek execution unless an indictment includes
elements necessary to impose the death penalty.
Following Judge North's ruling, prosecutors got a new indictment and
sought the death penalty for Kenneth Abend, who eventually was sentenced
to life in prison.
Judge Manck initially ruled in the state's favor in the Henry case, but
changed his mind after Judge North's ruling.
In a 23-page ruling written by Judge Lynn A. Battaglia, a former federal
prosecutor, a four-judge majority of the Court of Appeals said it couldn't
overrule Judge Manck because the state has no right to appeal unless the
indictment is dismissed altogether.
But Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. - joined by Judges Dale R. Cathell and Alan
M. Wilner - said the state's highest court has an obligation to intervene
in the case because it involves a question of life and death.
In a strongly worded 18-page dissent, the 3 judges called Judge Manck and
Judge North's logic a "contagion."
"Curing the infection and foreclosing its further spread in an area of the
law of such significance is of grave importance," Judge Harrell wrote.
The dissenting judges noted that Judges Manck and North didn't simply
dismiss the indictments - a decision prosecutors have a clear right to
Instead, they allowed the indictments to stand but said they wouldn't
allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty. Under a strict interpretation
of the law, prosecutors aren't able to appeal that ruling, and the dissent
suggests Judges North and Manck knew that and crafted their rulings so
they couldn't be appealed.
"Judge Manck exceeded his authority," Judge Harrell wrote.
"These 2 judges consciously did something knowing that we could not
directly appeal and therefore they avoided the scrutiny of the appeals
court," Mr. Weathersbee said. "That leaves open the idea that individual
judges . . . can decide the issue the way they want because there's no
appellate law. It's not a good situation."
The lawyer who argued the case for Henry before the Court of Appeals said
yesterday's decision is fairly narrow and doesn't keep prosecutors from
seeking the death penalty whenever they want.
"Assuming they have a factual basis for the death penalty, I don't view
this as much of a burden on the state," said Assistant Public Defender
Julia Doyle Bernhardt.
(source: The Capital)
PRESS RELEASE----CONTACT: David Elliot, NCADP Communications Director
202-543-9577, ext. 16 ---- delliot at ncadp.org----www.ncadp.org
920 Pennsylvania Ave. SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
NCADP WELCOMES U.S. CONFERENE OF BISHOPS' EFFORTS TO END USE OF THE DEATH
March 21, 2005 - The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Monday released the following statement by NCADP Executive Director Diann
Rust-Tierney in response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops'
announcement of an enhanced campaign to effectively end the use of capital
"The bishops' clarion call is rooted in the best tradition of faith-based
communities speaking out for social justice. The bishops acknowledged that
innocent people are being sentenced to death by a system that
discriminates on the basis of where one lives, how good a lawyer one can
afford and, all too often, the race and ethnicity of a crime victim. On
behalf of our approximately 100 local, state, national and international
affiliates, we pledge our support to help the bishops' goal of a less
violent world become a reality.
"We also are pleased to hear the new survey results showing that support
for abolition among Catholics in the U.S. is rising. This confirms other
surveys that show Americans increasingly favor alternatives to the death
penalty, including programs to prevent crime, address the needs of crime
victims and ensure better quality representation for those accused of a
crime. Investing our precious resources in these goals will result in
enhanced public safety and an America that meets her promise and potential
of democratic values."
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was founded in 1976
and is the only fully-staffed national organization devoted specifically
to abolishing the death penalty. NCADP is comprised of more than 100
local, state, national and international affiliates.
For Bush, High Drama and Mixed Reviews
It's unanimous here in Washington: We've just witnessed some great
political theater. It doesn't get much better than the president rushing
home from his beloved ranch to sign emergency, life-or-death legislation
passed by Congress in the middle of the night.
But there is no such unanimity when it comes to speculation over what
President Bush's primary motivation was for making such a dramatic move.
And the long-term impact of his decision on voters -- and the country --
is still anyone's guess.
David Gregory reported on the NBC Nightly News that Bush's surprise return
to the White House is "being seen as either an attempt to defend innocent
life or a crass act of political theater. . . .
"To be sure, the Schiavo case has become a core right-to-life issue for
political conservatives, Bush's political base," Gregory said, but "aides
deny a political motive on the president's part, saying as long as there
is a dispute about Terry Schiavo's intent -- whether she wants to live or
die -- every effort must be made to protect her."
And while the issue has indeed inflamed the social conservative
leadership, there are early signs that Bush's endorsement of federal
intervention in the case could prove deeply unpopular with the general
public -- and might even backfire.
Gary Langer reports for ABC News on a new ABC News poll which shows:
"Americans broadly and strongly disapprove of federal intervention in the
Terri Schiavo case, with sizable majorities saying Congress is
overstepping its bounds for political gain. . . .
"That legislative action is distinctly unpopular: Not only do 60 percent
oppose it, more -- 70 % -- call it inappropriate for Congress to get
involved in this way. And by a lopsided 67 percent-19 percent, most think
the elected officials trying to keep Schiavo alive are doing so more for
political advantage than out of concern for her or for the principles
"This ABC News poll also finds that the Schiavo case has prompted an
enormous level of personal discussion: Half of Americans say that as a
direct result of hearing about this case, they've spoken with friends or
family members about what they'd want done if they were in a similar
condition. Nearly 8 in 10 would not want to be kept alive."
Here are the poll results.
Here is the text of Bush's statement upon signing the Schiavo bill shortly
after 1 a.m.
"I will continue to stand on the side of those defending life for all
Americans, including those with disabilities," he said.
William Neikirk writes in the Chicago Tribune that in signing the bill,
Bush was "elevating a celebrated Florida case into a larger political and
legal controversy about American values regarding life and death."
Steven Thomma writes for Knight Ridder Newspapers: "The extraordinary
response by the federal government to try to save the life of Terri
Schiavo is a testament to the political passion and influence of social
"Once the feeding tube was removed from Schiavo on Friday, outraged
conservatives rose up to demand action from a government they helped put
"The response was immediate."
William R. Levesque of the St. Petersburg Times spoke with an angry
Michael Schiavo, Terri's husband, over the weekend.
" 'Come down, President Bush,' Schiavo said in a telephone interview.
'Come talk to me. Meet my wife. Talk to my wife and see if you get an
answer. Ask her to lift her arm to shake your hand. She won't do it.'
"She won't, Schiavo said, because she can't."
Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times: "Although Mr. Bush was
described as personally moved by the issue, his dramatic return was seen
as a powerful embrace of the 'culture of life' issues of religious
conservatives who helped him win the White House in 2004. Those groups
will be crucial to the political fortunes of the Republican Party in 2006
Was the political theater intentional? Well consider this, from Bumiller:
"White House officials acknowledged that the final bill could have been
flown to Mr. Bush in Texas, a round trip of six or seven hours that
probably would have made no difference in whether Ms. Schiavo lives."
And this: "It was the first time this president had interrupted a vacation
to return to Washington, although it was not the first time an emergency
had intruded on Mr. Bush's stay at his ranch, as happened when violence
between the Israelis and Palestinians escalated over Easter week in 2002."
Bush has disappointed social conservatives by not spending more of his
political capital to push for their key issues, such as constitutional
amendments to outlaw gay marriage and abortion.
But here was a chance for Bush to give them something of value without too
much political sacrifice -- although the personal sacrifice should not be
Bumiller reports that when Bush boarded Air Force One in Texas yesterday,
"His manner was crisp and businesslike, and he did not smile as he usually
does at onlookers and the small group of reporters who accompany him."
Well, I don't think I've ever seen Bush look as sour as he does here or
here. Those are Associated Press photos taken as Bush stepped off Air
Force One at Andrews Air Force Base yesterday afternoon.
My proposed caption: "Karl, did I really have to go back to Washington for
Bush's Past on Life and Death
So how will Bush's past actions hold up as the press inevitably looks back
to see how he's reacted in previous life-or-death matters?
Bush has been a fervent supporter of the death penalty. And as Alan Berlow
wrote in the Atlantic in 2003, an examination of clemency memos written by
then-Gov. Bush's then-legal counsel Alberto Gonzales "suggests that
Governor Bush frequently approved executions based on only the most
cursory briefings on the issues in dispute."
McClellan was asked about the death penalty parallel during yesterday's
gaggle on Air Force One.
"Q Can you talk to me -- again, this comes up. Can you explain the
difference between this case and the President's support of the death
penalty? I mean, I know this comes up in other culture of life issues, but
can you explain the difference here?
"MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I can tell you why the President supports the death
penalty, he's made that clear before. That the President believes it's a
deterrent that helps save lives, and that's why he supports the death
"Q But isn't that inconsistent with what he's doing today?
"MR. McCLELLAN: The reason he supports the death penalty is because it
helps -- he believes that it helps save lives, and he's stated that view
clearly and consistently over a number of years."
Bush's Texas Life-Support Law
And in what many liberal bloggers are calling an example of outright
hypocrisy, Bush signed a Texas law in 1999 that created a legal mechanism
to allow attending physicians and hospital ethics boards to pull the plug
on patients -- even if that specifically contradicts patient or family
As it happens, a major test case for that law was resolved just last week
-- with a baby's death.
Leigh Hopper writes in the Houston Chronicle: "The baby wore a cute blue
outfit with a teddy bear covering his bottom. The 17-pound, 6-month-old
boy wiggled with eyes open and smacked his lips, according to his mother.
"Then at 2 p.m. today, a medical staffer at Texas Children's Hospital
gently removed the breathing tube that had kept Sun Hudson alive since his
Sept. 25 birth. Cradled by his mother, he took a few breaths, and died.
"Sun's death marks the first time a hospital has been allowed by a U.S.
judge to discontinue an infant's life-sustaining care against a parent's
wishes, according to bioethical experts. A similar case involving a
68-year-old man in a chronic vegetative state at another Houston hospital
is before a court now. . . .
"Texas law allows hospitals [to] discontinue life sustaining care, even if
patient family members disagree."
"Where, I would ask, is the outrage?" blogger Mark A.R. Kleiman wrote in a
post that went careening around the blogosphere yesterday.
Later, blogger Digby wrote: "By now most people who read liberal blogs are
aware that George W. Bush signed a law in Texas that expressly gave
hospitals the right to remove life support if the patient could not pay
and there was no hope of revival, regardless of the patient's family's
wishes. . . .
"Those of us who read liberal blogs are also aware that Republicans have
voted en masse to pull the plug (no pun intended) on Medicaid funding that
pays for the kind of care that someone like Terry Schiavo and many others
who are not so severely brain damaged need all across this country. . . .
"Those who don't read liberal blogs, on the other hand, are seeing a
spectacle on television in which the news anchors repeatedly say that the
congress is 'stepping in to save Terry Schiavo' mimicking the unctuous
words of Tom Delay as they grovel and leer at the family and nod
sympathetically at the sanctimonious phonies who are using this issue for
their political gain."
(source: Washington Post)
Study finds `seismic shift' in Catholics' opposition to death penalty
Widespread use of DNA evidence combined with the church's teachings on
human life have prompted a sharp drop in the number of Catholics who
support the death penalty, according to a study released Monday by the
nation's Roman Catholic bishops.
The poll, billed as the largest and most comprehensive study of Catholic
attitudes on capital punishment, found that 48 % of more than 1,700
Catholics surveyed support the death penalty - a plunge from 2002 when
another survey reported Catholic support for capital punishment at 64 %.
Almost a third of the Catholics opposed to the death penalty said they had
previously supported it but have changed their minds. When asked why they
reconsidered, the No. 1 reason cited was religion.
"This is a seismic shift in public opinion," said John Zogby, president of
Zogby International, which conducted the poll in November. Zogby said the
increased use of DNA evidence in exonerating people on death row has
created a "cataclysmic event" that is altering public opinion.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C., said at a
Monday news conference that he was among those Catholics who had
reconsidered his support of the death penalty. Growing up in a family of
police officers, McCarrick said support for capital punishment was "part
of growing up." But as a pastor, McCarrick said he came to believe the
death penalty hurts all people, not just the one being executed.
"We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing. We cannot defend life
by taking life," said McCarrick. "I'm not a young man. But as a pastor,
teacher and citizen, I hope I will see the day when the nation I love no
longer relies on violence to confront violence."
Release of the survey coincides with an aggressive new Catholic campaign
to end the death penalty that includes a new Web site (www.ccedp.org),
educational materials for parishes and schools, legal advocacy and
brochures outlining the church's position on the issue.
The Rev. Robert F. Drinan, a professor of law at Georgetown University Law
Center, called the shift in Catholic opinion a "dramatic development."
Although use of DNA evidence is one factor in the shift, Drinan said, he
also pointed to the persistent pleas of Pope John Paul II to protect life.
"There are many factors involved in this and DNA is just one," said
Drinan. "The Catholic Church has evolved in its teaching on the death
penalty. Before they would say it was allowed in extreme cases to protect
society. Under Pope John Paul II, that has changed. It's an evolution in
In his 1999 encyclical "The Gospel of Life," the pontiff called on
followers of Christ to be "unconditionally pro-life" and "proclaim,
celebrate and serve the Gospel of life in every situation."
"A sign of hope is the increasing recognition that the dignity of human
life must never be taken away, even in the case of someone who has done
great evil," he wrote. "Modern society has the means of protecting itself,
without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform."
Some Christian leaders who support the death penalty say its justification
can be found in the book of Genesis, in which God said to Noah and his
family, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for
in the image of God made he man."
According to the Zogby survey, however, most Catholics said their reason
for opposing the death penalty also comes from the Bible: the commandment
that states "Thou shalt not kill."
When asked about attitudes on the death penalty, 63 % of Catholics
surveyed said they were concerned about what the use of capital punishment
"does to us as a people and country." Even among those who support the
death penalty, a majority shared that concern, Zogby said.
John Carr, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said
that finding offered some hope that more Catholics could be persuaded to
change their opinion.
"We know we have a long way to go on this. This is not a campaign of
judging people but persuading people."
(source: Chicago Tribune)
High court rejects reinstating escaped inmate's death sentence
The Supreme Court declined today to consider whether a Tennessee death row
inmate should get a new trial in Kentucky for a mass prison escape that
led to charges in Tennessee.
Justices let stand a lower court ruling in the case of Derrick Quintero,
who was among eight inmates involved in a breakout from the Kentucky State
Penitentiary in 1988. It was the 2nd time justices were asked to hear the
appeal; in 2002, they ordered a lower court to rethink its ruling throwing
out Quintero's sentence.
Quintero is on death row in Tennessee for the murder of an elderly couple,
Buford and Myrtle Vester of Dover, in the course of a fugitive flight
through Tennessee. The rulings in the escape case do not affect Quintero's
(source: Associated Press)
INDIANA----new death sentence
Kubsch sentenced to death----Wayne Kubsch fired his lawyers in order to
talk directly to the jury
In court on Monday, a jury heard Wayne Kubsch say he was found guilty of 3
murders he did not commit. Nonetheless, the jury deliberated for over an
hour before handing Kubsch a death sentence.
It was the second time Kubsch had been tried, convicted and sentenced to
death for the 1998 killings of his wife Beth, her ex-husband Rick
Milewski, and their 10-year-old son Arron Milewski.
The jury had the last word, but Kubsch had the next to the last word. The
man convicted of killing his wife and extended family fired his attorneys
on Monday to protect other family members, who otherwise would have been
called to testify in a death penalty defense.
"Wayne told us from the start, he didn't want to put on any mitigation. He
knew he was going to get up and he didn't know what he was going to say,
for sure, but he was willing to accept the death penalty if that's what
the jury thought was right," said Phillip Skodinski, Defense Lawyer.
In a five-minute statement, Kubsch told jurors he was found guilty of
three murders he did not commit but that he was tired of trying to prove
his innocence. He told jurors, "You found me guilty and I accept that." He
was satisfied that people who know Kubsch know his innocence and that he
had people who love him, believe in him and that's all he needs.
"I love Wayne dearly. He was my ex-son-in-law, but he was my best friend,"
said Billie Nash. "And there wasn't a week went by I wasn't with him,
nobody will ever convince me that he's done this."
Relatives of the murder victims felt the man who had taken three lives was
simply trying to save his own.
"Do you want to die? He doesn't want to die either," said George Thompson,
father of Beth Kubsch.
"I think what he was trying to do, use psychology to make people think he
is innocent, but they saw all the evidence. They know he's guilty," said
Linda Milewski, the mother of the slain Rick Milewski.
Indeed, Monday's jury deliberations lasted about an hour and 15 minutes.
It remains to be seen if the second trial for Wayne Kubsch will be the
"I think it's a very solid record. Judge Albright ruled conservatively on
the issues, which is a good thing," said Scott Duerring, Deputy
While Kubsch claimed he was innocent, he said he had no ill feelings
toward the jury or the state. He said that if giving him the death penalty
would prevent other murders, that was a trade he was willing to make.
(source: WNDU TV News)
SOUTH CAROLINA----stay of execution
Man gets stay of execution for appeals
A man who had been scheduled to die on April 8 for the kidnapping and
murder of a Charleston woman 12 years ago, has been granted a stay of
execution so he can pursue federal appeals.
The stay for Joseph Gardner was granted Friday by U.S. District Judge
Henry Herlong, according to the South Carolina attorney general's office.
Gardner was convicted of the Dec. 30, 1992, killing of Melissa "Missi"
McLauchlin, who was raped, tortured, shot 5 times in the face and left to
die by the side of a road in Summerville.
At the time of the shooting, police said Gardner and some other men made a
New Year's resolution to rape and kill a white woman as retribution for
400 years of oppression of black people. Gardner, who was later arrested
in Philadelphia, was the trigger man.
Gardner was sentenced to death in December 1995 by a jury of 10 whites and
In March 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court turned aside without comment an
appeal by Gardner. Gardner said his trial should have been moved elsewhere
because of pretrial publicity.
(source: Associated Press)
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