[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----ARK., ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Nov 28 23:43:04 CST 2005
Nance Executed After Several Delays
Arkansas death row inmate Eric Nance was put to death by lethal injection
Monday night around 9:30.
The execution was originally scheduled for 8:00 p.m. However, it was
delayed about an hour and a half so U.S. Supreme Court justices could
consider claims that Nance was mentally retarded and that additional DNA
testing might clear his name.
Nance awaited execution in a holding cell near Arkansas' death chamber 90
miles southeast of Little Rock.
After the justices rejected Nance's pleas, Arkansas executed him for the
killing and attempted rape of 18-year-old Julie Heath of Malvern.
Heath was last seen October 11th 1993, and her car was discovered along US
Highway 270. A hunter found her body a week later. Her throat had been
slashed with a box cutter.
It has been 2 years since the Arkansas Department of Correction has
carried out an execution.
Officials said delays like these are highly unusual.
Spokesperson Dina Tyler read a statement from the Director of the
Department of Corrections immediatetly after Nance's sentence was carried
The 2 delays by the US Supreme Court had the victim's family prepared for
a last minute stay of execution.
Both the families of Julie Heath and Eric Nance witnessed the execution.
Nance's family tried to shield themselves from the cameras as they arrived
at Cummins and did not offer any comment to the media.
Eric Nance was given the opportunity to offer any last words before he was
put to death. He also declined to comment.
The death order would have expired at midnight had the Supreme Court not
issued their decision.
Meanwhile in Little Rock, a group opposing the death penalty held a
candlelight vigil at the Governor's Mansion in protest of Nance's death.
Nance becomes the 1st condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Arkansas and the 27th overall since the state resumed capital punishment
Nance becomes the 54th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
the USA and the 998th overall since the nation resumed executions on
January 17, 1977. Nationally, another execution is scheduled in Ohio for
Tuesday morning, and Robin Lovitt is scheduled to be put to death
Wednesday evening in Virginia. Both executions are expected to be carried
out, which would mark the USA's 1000th execution since the death penalty
was re-legalized on July 2, 1976, in the US Supreme Court Gregg v Georgia
(sources: KATV News & Rick Halperin)
Death penalty should be avoided
In 2001, Charleston resident Anthony Mertz raped and murdered Eastern
student Shannon McNamara, and he was convicted and sentenced to the death
penalty in February 2003.
Mertz was the first person sent to Illinois' death row since former Gov.
George Ryan implemented the execution moratorium, and his appeal is the
first to reach the Supreme Court of those sentenced to death under the
Mertz was sentenced one month after Ryan commuted the sentences of 167
death row inmates into life in prison. In 2000, Ryan stopped all Illinois
executions fearing that 13 death row inmates were wrongfully accused.
If there is the possibility of a flaw appearing in the death penalty
system, then it would be better to avoid it altogether. If the system
doesn't give complete assurance that the people being executed are guilty
of their crimes, then a life in prison sentence is the obvious answer.
When a person is sentenced to life in prison, life is what is taken away,
even without the execution.
Mertz does deserve the most severe of punishments, but putting a person in
a cell under maximum security for life is still severe.
In prison, some convicts are treated differently than others based on the
crime. For instance, it is expected for Mertz to be treated like a
convicted murderer and given little freedom.
There is also a belief that it is always wrong for one person to end
another person's life. Mertz is guilty of murder, but doing the same to
him doesn't necessarily justify the situation.
When a person is executed, it is usually because the crime he or she
committed was so great that lawmakers and a jury believe the criminal
should pay for the crime with their lives. It's also because of the
mentality that once executed, a convict won't be able to cause any more
While that thought does make sense, believing that means not trusting the
security at state prisons.
The mission at a prison is to keep all who enter inside and keep them
living a contained life.
Since 1976 there have been more than 990 executions in the United States
and more than 350 in Texas alone, according to www.deathpenaltyinfo.org.
There have been 112 executions in the last 2 years and 12 in Illinois
The goal is to avoid the death penalty as a sentence as often as possible,
and that can be solved by turning more death sentences into life-time
The life in prison sentence will assure that convicted murderers and
rapists are locked away for good and won't be a threat to anybody anymore,
without executing them.
(source: The Daily Eastern News)
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