[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----ARK., MISS., OHIO, VA., N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 28 22:19:04 CST 2005
Supreme Court orders delay in Nance execution for 1993 killing
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday delayed the scheduled execution of
condemned killer Eric Nance to give Justice Clarence Thomas more time to
review the case.
The Supreme Court held Nance's last chance for a stay of execution on
Monday. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis has denied 2
appeals from Nance, one on a mental retardation claim and another seeking
a new hearing regarding DNA evidence.
Matt DeCample, a spokesman for the Arkansas attorney general's office,
said Thomas asked for more time to fully review all of the filings and
responses in the case. Thomas handles emergency cases from Arkansas that
go to the nation's highest court.
Nance still could be executed Monday after Thomas, and perhaps other
justices, review the case.
Gov. Mike Huckabee, earlier Monday, rejected Nance's clemency request, and
the state Supreme Court also denied an 11th-hour request for a stay.
Huckabee said he gave Nance's case "prayerful consideration" and that he
made a thorough review of Nance's records.
About 30 protesters gathered briefly outside the Gov.'s Mansion on Monday
night and sang "Amazing Grace." They also lit candles to remember previous
inmates executed in Arkansas.
The U.S. Supreme Court was asked to consider whether Nance is mentally
retarded. Justices have ruled previously that mentally retarded inmates
should not be put to death.
Judges on the 8th Circuit had been asked to review whether further DNA
testing should be done on a piece of hair found in Nance's truck after
Nance, 45, was scheduled to die at the Cummins Unit prison at Varner. He
was convicted of killing Julie Heath, 18, of Malvern in 1993 in Hot Spring
He also was convicted of attempted rape - the aggravating circumstance in
his capital murder trial.
Heath was last seen Oct. 11, 1993, and her car was discovered along U.S.
270. A hunter found her body Oct. 18, 1993, and authorities said she had
been dead about a week. Her throat had been slashed with a box cutter.
Nance was arrested 2 days later. He was 33 at the time.
Prior to his arrest, Nance told people he feared someone would fabricate a
story about him being involved in the woman's disappearance.
He was convicted in Hot Spring County Circuit Court and sentenced to
The state Supreme Court affirmed his conviction in 1999. He filed a
federal appeal in September 2000, arguing there was insufficient evidence
to support the attempted rape conviction - attempted rape was the
underlying felony in the capital murder conviction - and that he received
ineffective assistance from his lawyers.
The appeals court found the evidence was sufficient to support the
conviction, including hairs found in Nance's truck that experts said were
microscopically similar to the victim's.
Last week, U.S. District Judge James Moody refused to delay the execution
after public defenders argued that new DNA tests on the hair could
The state argued that the hair was not the only evidence used to convict
Nance and that the inmate had no new evidence that would clear his name.
In the state Supreme Court, federal public defenders asked to file motions
in the state court. Assistant attorney general Kelly Hill said defense
lawyers had been on the case for months, yet filed a motion for a stay
only on Friday - the last business day before the day of the execution.
Hill wrote that a defense lawyer offered no specific reason for granting a
stay - "apparently wishing to leave his options open or, more likely, to
benefit from the surprise effect of more last-minute pleadings."
In a separate motion, Hill said the stay should be denied.
"A petitioners motives become suspect when he seeks a stay of execution at
the 11th hour raising collateral claims that have been or could have been
decided long ago," she wrote.
Nance was moved to a quiet cell near the execution chamber on Friday.
Guards on Monday brought him a final meal. His lawyer and spiritual
adviser met with him during the day, prison spokeswoman Dina Tyler said.
Arkansas' death row is at the Varner Supermax Unit about 90 miles
southeast of Little Rock. Executions are held at the nearby Cummins Unit.
(source: Associated Press)
U.S. Supreme Court Declines To Hear Mississippi Death Row Cases
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear appeals from 2 Mississippi
death row inmates.
The nation's high court without comment Monday denied petitions from death
row inmates Derrick Walker and Quintez Hodges. Both inmates have more
avenues of appeals.
The Mississippi Supreme Court had upheld both convictions and death
sentences in March.
Walker was sentenced to death in Lee County in 2003 for the stabbing death
of Charles Richardson. Walker was convicted of capital murder and arson.
Police said Richardson's body was found by firefighters answering a report
of smoke coming from his house on July 17, 2001.
Richardson had been repeatedly stabbed and slashed.
Walker was arrested in Arkansas. Authorities said he was driving
Hodges was sentenced to death in 2001 in Lowndes County for the July 21,
1999, fatal shooting of 17-year-old Issac Johnson, and of kidnapping
Johnson's sister, Cora Johnson, and her baby.
Authorities said Isaac Johnson's body was discovered in the bedroom of his
Hodges was the ex-boyfriend of Cora Johnson and the father of her child.
(source: Associated Press)
U.S. inmate set to die Tuesday----Loses bid for clemency, delay of
A death-row inmate lost his chance Monday for clemency and a delay of his
execution for strangling his mother-in-law and suffocating his 5-year-old
stepdaughter while high on cocaine.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati refused to postpone
Tuesday's scheduled execution of John Hicks, 49. The request was Hicks'
only pending appeal, but it was not immediately clear if his attorney
would file any other motions.
Hicks likely will be the 999th person executed since the United States
reinstated the death penalty in 1977. The 1,000th execution is expected
Wednesday in Virginia, of a man convicted of fatally stabbing a pool hall
manager with a pair of scissors.
Hicks was convicted of the aggravated murder of Maxine Armstrong, 56, and
his stepdaughter Brandy Green in Armstrong's Cincinnati apartment in 1985.
He was sentenced to die for the child's slaying.
He strangled and robbed Armstrong so he could buy more drugs and later
returned to kill Green when he realized she could identify him as the last
person at the apartment.
Hicks based his court request on the grounds that lethal injection can
constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
His attorney, Marc Mezibov, did not immediately return a message seeking
comment on the ruling. Mezibov had said he wished that Gob. Bob Taft had
more carefully considered the request for clemency.
"As difficult as the facts are in connection with Mr. Hicks' actions,
there are nevertheless compelling and legitimate reasons why his life
should be spared," Mezibov said.
Hicks offered a tearful apology for the slaying in an early November
interview before his clemency hearing but said he was under the control of
cocaine and not fully aware of his actions.
Mezibov described his client's addiction as a "cocaine psychosis" that led
him to eliminate any barriers to his drug use.
Taft could have changed the death sentence to life in prison. However, he
cited the rulings throughout Hicks' appeals that found he had been given a
fair trial and that there was overwhelming evidence of his guilt.
Hicks arrived Monday at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in
Lucasville from Mansfield Correctional Institution, said Andrea Dean,
spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. No
family members planned to witness the execution.
Hicks would be the 4th person executed in Ohio this year and the 19th
since the state resumed executions in 1999.
(source: Associated Press)
VIRGINIA----impending (1000th USA) execution
Protest planned for possible 1,000th execution
Death penalty opponents are planning to stage one of Virginia's largest
execution night protests Wednesday night if the landmark execution of
Robin Lovitt goes forward as scheduled.
Unless Gov. Mark R. Warner intervenes, Lovitt will likely become the
1,000th person executed in the United States since the U.S. Supreme Court
reinstated capital punishment in 1976.
Amnesty International USA has chartered 2 buses to bring protesters from
the District of Columbia and other parts of Virginia to Greensville
Correctional Center in Jarratt, about 60 miles south of Richmond.
Around 200 Amnesty members are hoping to attend, making this one of the
group's largest execution protests in recent years, said Sue
Gunawardena-Vaughn, director of Amnesty's program to abolish the death
Lovitt, 42, was convicted in 1999 of fatally stabbing Clayton Dicks with a
pair of scissors during a robbery of a pool hall in Arlington, a
Washington, D.C. suburb. Prosecutors said Dicks caught Lovitt prying open
a cash register with the scissors, which police found in the woods between
the pool hall and the home of Lovitt's cousin.
Lovitt admitted grabbing the cash box, but insisted he saw someone else
kill Dicks. Initial DNA tests of the scissors were inconclusive.
Lovitt's lawyers and death penalty opponents say his life should be spared
because a court clerk prematurely and illegally destroyed the bloody
scissors and other evidence, precluding post-conviction DNA testing that
they claim could exonerate him.
"Mr. Lovitt's case demonstrates all the problems that we have been trying
to highlight over the years about how a fallible system that's
administered by fallible human beings can result in the death of someone
who might be potentially innocent," Gunawardena-Vaughn said.
Lovitt's lawyers said there were other problems with his conviction: shaky
eyewitness testimony, childhood abuse that was never presented to the jury
and the prosecution's reliance on a jailhouse snitch with a history of
feeding information to authorities in hopes of getting a reduced sentence
or better prison conditions.
Jack Payden-Travers, executive director of Virginians for Alternatives to
the Death Penalty, said he is also expecting a larger-than-normal group of
protesters Wednesday. The group usually draws between 6 and 100 protesters
outside the death chamber during executions, he said.
While it's impossible to predict exactly how many will join him Wednesday,
Payden-Travers said the intense interest in the case, and the strong
number expected from Amnesty, leads him to believe this will be one of the
state's largest execution night protests. He said he has received an
unprecedented 500 letters from Virginians upset over Lovitt's planned
execution, and for the first time has heard from death penalty opponents
in other states who plan to fly in for the demonstration.
"We've seen concern in other death cases, but this was -- is -- so
egregious," Payden-Travers said. "There are so many issues that this case
raises: prosecutorial misconduct, misrepresentation of the evidence,
faulty eyewitness identification -- not to mention the jailhouse snitch."
Candlelight vigils and protests are planned across the country on
Wednesday and Thursday if Lovitt's execution goes forward. Churches in
several states plan to toll their bells to mark the event.
In Connecticut, between 300 and 500 churches will toll their bells at 6
p.m. EST Wednesday, three hours before Lovitt is scheduled to die by
injection, said Robert Nave, executive director of the Connecticut Network
to Abolish the Death Penalty.
"We have become complacent in the fact that on at least a weekly basis
now, we are exterminating a citizen," Nave said. "We figured the nation
should take notice."
The governor on Monday was considering Lovitt's clemency petition, said
Warner's spokesman, Kevin Hall.
"Gov. Warner continues to give this case the serious and prayerful
consideration that it deserves," Hall said.
Those who support Lovitt's death sentence say protesters of the execution
have their priorities wrong.
"He's a killer, simply put," said Michael Paranzino, president of Throw
Away the Key, a group that supports the death penalty. "He's unrepentant,
he killed a man in cold blood. And just because Clayton Dicks is not a
household name or a prominent figure ... he's no less deserving of the
state's compassion. It's his family and him for whom we should be
On the Net: 1000 Executions: http://www.1000executions.org/
Throw Away the Key: http://www.throwawaythekey.org/
(source: Boston Globe)
NORTH CAROLINA----impending execution
Execution day draws near
The end of Kenneth Lee Boyd's life is hurtling toward him. The 57-year-old
convicted murderer is scheduled to be executed at Raleigh's Central Prison
at 2 a.m. Friday.
Boyd was sentenced to death in 1994, for a second time, for the 1988
murders of his estranged wife Julie Curry Boyd and her father Thomas
Curry. Boyd shot the 2 in front of 2 his own children with a .357 magnum
he bought just days before.
Boyd's execution is the 4th and final one scheduled for this year. His
will be the 3rd in as many weeks at Central Prison.
On Monday, Central Prison's Deputy Warden Gerald Branker gave reporters a
tour of the execution area and ran down what the last days of a typical
death row inmate are like.
As the execution day draws closer, Boyd will be removed from death row,
where 171 inmates currently reside, and taken to the "death watch" area on
the prison's 2nd floor.
A thick metal door seals off the room. The door looks exactly like most at
the prison except its large windows are covered with brown paper
concealing the room on the other side. The room is about 500 square feet
with three cells, a steel table and a shower.
2 guards remain in the room with the inmate at all times while another
guard monitors from outside. Branker said prisoners spend little time here
In the 24 hours leading up to the execution, prisoners spend most their
time with their lawyers and family and friends in a visiting room, Branker
said. Visiting hours on the eve of the execution are from 10 a.m. until 11
p.m. A wall separates the inmate and his family during the visits. Branker
said contact visits are rare and at the warden's discretion.
After visiting hours are over, the prisoner's spiritual advisor sits with
him as the final hour draws near.
Branker said at 1 a.m. the warden asks the prisoner to strip to his shorts
and socks. He is then led from the death watch area to a small staging
room located only a few feet away and outside the death chamber. The
inmate is secured to a gurney by the ankles and wrists. Two saline
intravenous lines are started, one in each arm and the inmate is covered
with a sheet.
The inmate is then given the opportunity to make a final statement, which
the warden takes down and makes public after the execution. The inmate is
then given a chance to pray with the chaplain.
Forty minutes later, the witnesses for the execution are led into the
observation gallery. Only 16 people can fit in the 115 square-foot room. 2
rows of 4 blue plastic chairs sit close to the large observation window.
Witnesses to executions include officials selected by the district
attorney and sheriff of the county where the inmate was convicted and as
many as four citizens. The inmate may also select as many as 5 people to
witness the execution. A 1997 amendment also gave the right for 2 members
of the victim's family to attend the execution as well.
Pamela Walker, a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, said by
this time dozens of people have lined the street outside the prison to
protest and hold a vigil for the inmate. She said earlier in the day the
crowd might reach as many as 70 people but as the night draws on the
At 1:50 a.m., the warden calls Corrections Secretary Theodis Beck to test
the phone line should any last-minute reprieve come.
Five minutes later, Branker said, the warden calls Beck back for
permission to proceed with the staging. The inmate is then wheeled into
the death chamber and a curtain is drawn behind him to protect the
identity of the personnel who will administer the fatal doses.
During this time, the inmate and the witnesses can see one another.
Captain Marshall Hudson has witnessed several executions during his career
at Central Prison and he said inmates sometimes mouth things to the
"Typically he says 'I'm sorry, I love you, I'm going home,'" Hudson said.
A 3rd and final call is made at 2 a.m. giving the warden permission to
execute the inmate. At that time, 2 syringes are depressed slowly. One
syringe contains no less than 3,000 milligrams of sodium pentothal, a
short acting barbiturate that puts the inmate to sleep. The 2nd syringe
contains saline to flush the IV line clean.
A 3rd syringe is then injected. This syringe contains no less than 40
milligrams of Pavulon, a paralyzing agent.
Then a 4th syringe injects no less than 160 millequivalents of potassium
chloride. At this dosage the drug interrupts nerve impulses to the heart,
causing it to stop beating.
A final injection of saline is administered to flush the IV.
After the inmate's heart monitor flat lines for 5 minutes, he is
pronounced dead. A curtain is drawn over the observation window and
Branker said the warden informs the witnesses.
The body is then released to the medical examiner.
Boyd told the Eden Daily News he is prepared for his execution. He said he
has regretted what he did to his wife and father-in-law everyday since
committing the murders. He said he hopes his death helps those he hurt
find some relief.
(source: Eden Daily News)
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