[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA, ALA., OHIO, NEV.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Nov 29 14:32:20 CST 2005
Nearly all modern democracies have abolished the death penalty. Advanced
countries realize that a society is degraded by putting people to death.
Mostly, the ancient custom occurs today only in brutal places like Saudi
Arabia, China and the like. Sadly, America ranks among the killing fields.
This week, America is expected to mark its 1,000th execution since the
U.S. Supreme Court restored capital punishment in 1977. In Europe - where
every nation has ended state killings - America appears primitive in this
Incredibly, more than one-third of all U.S. executions have been in Texas.
When he was governor, George W. Bush set a killing record - and mocked one
condemned woman after she was featured in a television documentary.
Conservative politicians are staunchly pro-death, because this makes them
seem tough on crime. But executions dont deter crime, researchers have
found. The only purpose of capital punishment is to satisfy a public urge
Michael Paranzino, president of a pro-death group called Throw Away the
Key, says executions are needed because, "since 1999, we've had 100,000
innocent people murdered in the United States." In other words, the
government must kill killers to show that killing is wrong.
It's true that America's murder rate is vastly higher than in other
advanced democracies. But that's largely because of this country's pistol
saturation. The fact that nations with no death penalty have much less
murder - and execution-prone America has much more murder - proves that
the death penalty isnt a deterrent.
Tragically, America's system is unbalanced. Wealthy whites rarely are
executed. The ultimate punishment is inflicted mostly on blacks, Hispanics
and the poor. And it's sobering to realize that numerous convicted
murderers have later been determined innocent.
Thank heaven, West Virginia is one of a dozen states that stopped killing
prisoners. Polls show that U.S. support for the death penalty has dropped
from 80 % in 1994 to 64 % today. We hope this trend continues, and the
entire nation eventually follows West Virginias humane example.
(source: Editorial, The Charleston (W. VA.) Gazette)
A Gruesome Milestone----After the death penalty was restored in 1976,
America went on a killing spree. But at the 1,000 mark, there's heartening
news that the pace is declining.
Convicted murderer Robin Lovitt, 45, is scheduled to die by lethal
injection in Virginia Wednesday, becoming the 1,000th inmate to be
executed in the United States since the death penalty was reinstated by
the Supreme Court in 1976.
This gruesome milestone renews the perennial debate over capital
punishment, and the particular case is illustrative of one of the reasons
half of all Americans are opposed to this method of justice: the fear of
killing innocent persons. Mr. Lovitt was convicted of the 1998 murder of
Clayton Dicks during a robbery at a pool hall, but the prosecution's case
was based on circumstantial evidence and weak. Witnesses were unclear
about whether or not it was Lovitt they saw leaving the establishment. No
fingerprints were found on the murder weapon. None of the victim's blood
was found on Mr. Lovitt's clothing. And the key witness was a prison
inmate who alleged Mr. Lovitt told him about the crime.
Mr. Lovitt's attorneys, including former Whitewater independent counselor
Kenneth Starr, have appealed to Gov. Mark Warner for clemency. Gov. Warner
supports the death penalty, and has been Virginia's chief executive
through 11 executions. The case has aroused renewed interest in the
question of whether the state's death penalty should be revoked.
Such doubt weighs heavily on the nation, and this seems to be reflected in
a decline in the rate of executions in the last several years. During the
1990s, executions were taking place at a rate of about 300 a year. This
pace has fallen by half during the current decade.
Connecticut actually increased its death penalty rate by 100 % during the
latter period, when it executed serial killer Michael Ross. In Mr. Ross's
case, there was no doubt as to his guilt. The issue in Connecticut was the
more basic one of the death penalty's morality, a topic that led to a
brief but uneventful debate in the General Assembly.
The number 1,000 and the uncertainty that clouds Mr. Lovitt's conviction
ought to recapture the public's attention in Connecticut and the other 37
states that still tolerate this barbaric system of justice. Capital
punishment isn't a deterrent to crime. The long appeals process arguably
causes as much misery among victims' families and loved ones as the crime
itself. It is costly (New Jersey, for example, has spent nearly $300
million on appeals and incarceration expenses for capital cases since
1976). The death penalty demeans humanity, a fact that has caused all but
a few civilized nations in the world to abolish it.
For opponents of the death penalty, as this newspaper is, the decline in
the rate of executions is encouraging. Maybe after 1,000 executions,
America will come to its senses.
(source: Editorial, The Day)
Moussaoui jurors face questions about 9/11----Federal prosecutors submit
31-page jury questionnaire
Prosecutors want to ask jurors who will decide the punishment for a
convicted al Qaeda terrorist about their views of capital punishment and
whether they know anyone who died in the September 11 attacks.
The issues are raised in a 31-page proposed jury questionnaire prosecutors
submitted Monday to the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. Defense
lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui are working on their own questionnaire.
Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April to joining al Qaeda's terrorist
conspiracy to crash planes into landmark buildings. A penalty phase trial
will take place early next year.
The 12 jurors will decide whether Moussaoui will spend the rest of his
life in prison without the possibility of parole or die by lethal
injection, the only form of execution used in the federal system.
They will be chosen from a pool of 500 jurors who will assemble at the
federal courthouse on February 6 to fill out the questionnaires.
The following week, lawyers will quiz prospective jurors during follow-up
interviews in court. The jurors' identities will be shielded from the
judge, attorneys and the media -- a common practice in terrorism cases.
The questionnaire proposed by the government asks prospective jurors
whether they, family members or friends know anyone who was a victim of
the attacks that killed 2,973 people at the World Trade Center in New
York, at the Pentagon in northern Virginia, and in a plane that crashed in
a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
The questionnaire also asks jurors what they know about about the 19
hijackers who crashed passenger jets into the twin towers of the trade
center, the Pentagon, and the field near Shanksville. It includes
questions about Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, leaders of al
Qaeda, the Islamic terrorist group behind the attacks.
Prosecutors also want to ask jurors whether they have ever worked in an
airport, as a firefighter, or at the Pentagon, which is in the court's
Moussaoui, 37, a French national from Morocco, has admitted joining al
Qaeda and pledging loyalty to bin Laden, attending training camps in
Afghanistan and coming to the United States hoping to fly a plane into the
Prosecutors have not proven that Moussaoui had any direct role in the
attacks, but the government contends his lies to FBI agents after his
arrest 4 weeks before September 11 covered up the conspiracy and
contributed to the mass casualties.
"The questions that are being asked are standard for federal death penalty
cases," said David Runhke, a New Jersey attorney who has represented more
than two dozen defendants in death penalty cases. His clients include
Khalfan Khamis Mohammed, who carried out al Qaeda's 1998 bombing of the
U.S. embassy in Tanzania, which killed 11 people and injured dozens.
The New York jury that convicted Mohammed in 2001 rejected prosecutors'
call for the death penalty and imposed a life sentence.
"The question I would like to see asked in cases involving terrorism is
whether jurors could give fair consideration to mitigating circumstances,"
The proposed questionnaire in the Moussaoui case asks potential jurors if
they have ever undergone flight training, like Moussaoui, who first raised
suspicion at a Minnesota flight school in August 2001 when he arrived to
use a 747 simulator without having obtained a pilot's license.
Prospective jurors will be asked whether they or any relatives have served
in the military, if anyone in their families is stationed by the military
in the Middle East, and if they know anyone who lives in that region.
In addition to basic personal information such as education and
occupation, the questionnaire asks prospective jurors their religion and
how often they attend a houses of worship, and whether they know anything
The government also wants to know whether prospective jurors speak Arabic
or know anyone of Arab descent, like Moussaoui, where they get their news,
and what civic groups they belong to.
The questionnaire inquires about attitudes toward crime, law enforcement
agencies, and the death penalty -- weighing the depth of their opposition
or support, when they believe it might be justified, or whether life
imprisonment might be worse punishment.
"If the evidence in this case establishes that the death penalty is
appropriate under the law, could you vote to impose the death penalty upon
a defendant," the proposed questionnaire asks.
A simple "yes" or "no" answer is required.
Accused killer asks for release until new trial -- Moore lawyers seek
bail: 'It's not like he's going to run off'
Accused killer Daniel Wade Moore is asking to be released from jail while
he waits to hear if he will get a new trial for the murder of Decatur
housewife Karen Tipton.
Lawyers for Moore, 31, asked the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals last
week to set bail for him as it decides if Morgan County Circuit Judge
Glenn Thompson was correct in throwing out the capital murder charges
against Moore in February.
"It's been on appeal now roughly 9 months. That's a long time to sit in
jail, not counting the other 5 years he's been there based on this," said
Moore attorney Sherman Powell Jr. of Decatur. "We just asked that he be
"It's not like he's going to run off."
Powell pointed to four days Moore was free between the day his case was
dismissed and the time the Alabama attorney general's office filed an
appeal forcing Moore back to jail. Moore spent his days of freedom with
his family in Morgan County.
Moore was accused of stabbing Tipton to death in 1999. He was found
guilty, and Thompson sentenced him to death in 2003.
But Thompson dismissed the verdict and the death penalty this year after
concluding that prosecutors and the Decatur police withheld evidence from
In its appeal in August, the defense argued that Moore should be freed
because evidence from the first trial has been lost - notably pornographic
images and sex toys that belonged to Tipton. Prosecutors say the defense
brought up the sexual material in an attempt to make Tipton look bad.
The prosecution, though, insists on a new trial. In their objection to the
defense's motion, which they filed Monday, the prosecution said not only
is Moore a flight risk, he is a danger to society.
"There can be no question that a jury might find Moore guilty of capital
murder or that Moore might be sentenced to death, as this outcome has
already occurred," read the objection, signed by Assistant Attorney
General Don Valeska. "Accordingly, it is beyond dispute that there is
sufficient evidence to prove that Daniel Wade Moore is a murderer."
Assistant Attorney General Corey Maze said Moore is a flight risk because
he knows he may be found guilty again.
"At that point, he knows one jury has already convicted him, therefore he
has every reason to believe another jury will do the same," Maze said.
Also, the prosecution cited a public statement by Moore's father advising
him to leave Alabama if he is released before retrial: "My advice is leave
Alabama and don't come back." They also referred to Moore's past drug use
and said he's a threat to society.
"He's guilty of a vicious murder of an innocent housewife," said William
Dill, assistant attorney general.
Powell said Moore has already proved he won't run by returning to jail
within 20 minutes of the judge's order to return after his brief release.
Also, Powell said Moore hasn't done drugs in the nearly seven years he has
been in prison.
(source: Hunstville Times)
Guilty of inhumanity
Supreme Court judges were today branded "inhumane" and faced demands to
reconsider their verdict after condemning Scot Kenny Richey back to death
Edinburgh-born Richey now faces at least another 18 months in prison after
the United States' most senior judges overturned his appeal and ordered
that he be kept in jail as a convicted killer.
The US Supreme Court said an appeal court had wrongly ruled in favour of
Richey, who has spent 20 years on death row after being convicted of
murdering a toddler.
Human rights groups today described Richey's lengthy incarceration as
"barbaric" and said they were stunned that Supreme Court judges had
overturned the appeal on a technicality. Mr Richey's family today vowed
not to give up the fight to free him despite yesterday's crushing verdict.
Supreme Court judges ruled that a previous decision by the 6th US Circuit
Court of Appeals to overturn Richey's conviction was inadmissible because
they had considered fresh evidence.
The justices said the circuit judges had made mistakes in dealing with
Richey's appeal and the case will now return to the appeals court in
In January this year, the Appeals Court in Cincinnati overturned Richey's
murder conviction after deciding grave mistakes had been made during his
original trial, based on new evidence they had received. The court was
aware that, technically, it should not have taken into account any fresh
evidence, but felt it was so compelling it would do so and based its
judgement on this.
By a 2-to-1 majority, the judges ruled Richey's defence team committed
fundamental errors at the 1986 trial.
At the original trial, William Kluge, the public defender assigned to the
case, made a number of serious mistakes which Richey's supporters said
amounted to incompetence.
He persuaded Richey to waive his right to jury trial in favour of a
3-judge panel. He chose his arson expert from a newspaper ad and advised
the expert to spend no more than ten hours in research on grounds of cost.
When the expert's conclusions mirrored those of the prosecution, Mr Kluge
also failed to prevent the prosecution calling him to the stand to support
their own case. After just three days, Richey was found guilty and
sentenced to death.
"Constitutional errors have undermined our confidence in the reliability
of Mr Richey's conviction and sentence," the appeal court judges stated.
"Mr Richey was clearly prejudiced by his attorney's deficiencies."
But the Supreme Court yesterday asked the appeals court to revisit its
concerns about Richey's defence lawyer.
A spokeswoman for Amnesty International said: "The 6th circuit judges were
probably aware that they shouldn't be considering new evidence, but they
felt it was so compelling they were duty bound to look at it.
"This is inhumane and the decision is typical of the US justice system
where judges are elected to get convictions.
"This latest setback is set against a background of inhumane treatment
that Kenny has suffered for the last 20 years. To keep someone on Death
Row for this long is simply barbaric."
Mr Richey's family, including his fiancee, Karen, who has led the campaign
for his release, said Richey would be devastated by the latest setback,
which is likely to see him stay on death row for at least another 18
months. His mother Eileen Richey, who still lives in Orwell Terrace,
Dalry, said she was shocked at the court's decision.
She said: "I am just going to have to see what his lawyers have to say
now. I will be speaking to my other son, Steven, who lives in America, and
see what can be done. I just don't know what's going to happen."
Fiancee Karen Richey added: "It is a total shock because we were expecting
a decision in our favour - we were about 95 % certain.
"Basically what has happened is that the state has won something on a
legal technicality to keep an innocent man on death row. The fight will
still go on."
MSP Margo MacDonald, independent MSP for Lothian region, said: "I feel
really devastated on his account.
"I feel it is undeniable that he is the pawn in a fairly elaborate game of
power chess being played out in Ohio between people who over the years
have had a decisive part to play in this whole saga."
Ken Parsigan, Richey's lawyer, said the decision had come as a major
setback to the appeal, but added he remained "cautiously optimistic" about
the Scot's future.
(source: Edinburgh Evening News)
High court orders mental hearing in death row case
Robert Ybarra, on death row 24 years for rape and murder, will get a
hearing to determine whether he is mentally retarded.
If so, that would prevent Ybarra's execution under a U.S. Supreme Court
opinion saying the mentally retarded cannot be executed.
Ybarra was sentenced to die in 1981 for raping and murdering a 16-year-old
girl. Nancy Griffin was taken into the desert outside of Ely, raped, and
set on fire. She was found naked and wandering in the desert, but
identified her assailant before she died in a Salt Lake City hospital.
The Nevada Supreme Court on Monday ordered the district court in Ely to
conduct a hearing and rule on Ybarra's mental competence.
This was his 5th appeal to the Nevada high court seeking to overturn
convictions for 1st-degree murder, kidnapping, battery and sexual assault.
The other issues were all rejected by the high court.
But it's the 1st time the issue of mental competence has been raised in
(source: Nevada Appeal)
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