[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----S. DAK., MASS., ILL., IND.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Aug 14 20:07:41 UTC 2006
Killer in South Dakota case wants execution to proceed----Man sentenced to
death in 2000 slaying wants to end his appeals
This Old West town (Deadwood) where Jack McCall killed gunfighter Wild
Bill Hickok while he played poker in 1876 again figures in a capital
punishment case in South Dakota, which may be facing its first execution
in 59 years.
McCall was hanged for shooting Hickok in Saloon No. 10. It was the first
recorded execution in what would become South Dakota 12 years later.
Now, Elijah Page wants to die.
Page, 24, has asked to fire his lawyer, forgo appeals and die by le thal
injection for his role in the March 13, 2000, slaying of 19-year-old
Chester Poage. Page and two other men beat, stabbed and tortured Poage in
Higgins Gulch near Spearfish in the Black Hills of western South Dakota.
Page, of Athens, Texas, should find out at a hearing today if the same
judge who handed down his death sentence will grant his request.
Judge Warren Johnson of Deadwood had ordered a mental evalua tion before
considering Page's request.
"If the results show you're competent to make the decisions, I will be
inclined to honor your decision," Johnson told Page at a May hear ing.
Defense lawyer Mike Butler has said he thinks Page's decision to end his
appeals might be equivalent to a suicide attempt.
Page's execution already is set for the week of Aug. 28 at the state
penitentiary in Sioux Falls. The state Supreme Court has upheld his death
Johnson sentenced Page and Briley Piper, 25, of Anchorage, Alaska, to
death in 2001 even though they pleaded guilty, saying he considered the
killing vile and depraved.
That combination of a guilty plea and death sentence is rare, said Richard
Dieter, executive di rector of the Death Penalty Information Center, which
provides analysis and information on capital punishment issues.
South Dakota prosecutors have sought the death penalty in some cases but
it rarely is imposed by the state's juries -- let alone judges.
Page's refusal to pursue appeals also is out of the ordinary.
"There have been quite a few people, that is about 12 % of those executed
(in the U.S.), who had waived part of their appeals," said Dieter. It is
"somewhat unusual to waive every possible appeal," as Page has done.
The third man charged with Poage's killing, Darrell Hoadley, 26, of Lead,
opted to stand trial. He was convicted and a split jury sen tenced him to
life in prison.
According to testimony, Hoad ley said Page and Piper planned to steal a
stereo, a television and other property from Poage's mother's house in
Spearfish. A prosecutor said Poage was killed so there would be no
Hoadley said Piper stabbed Poage 3 times in the head and neck, and Page
kicked Poage 30 to 40 times in the head, tearing his ears off, then hit
him on the head with large rocks.
Hoadley said he hit Poage with two large rocks near the end of the attack,
which lasted at least 2 hours. He said he was afraid Piper and Page would
kill him if he interfered or tried to leave.
South Dakota had the death penalty when it became a state in 1889 but
abolished it in 1915. Capital punishment was reinstated in 1939 but
abolished again from 1977 to 1979 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
existing death penalty laws unconstitutional. The current death penalty
statute has been in place since 1979.
Other men have been sen tenced to die, but Page would be the 1st executed
in the state since 1947. Besides Page and Piper, 3 other men are on South
Dakota's death row, but their cases are in various stages of appeal.
Even if Page's execution request is granted, he still could change his
mind and let the appeals process continue.
Either way, the state is ready to carry out the death sentence warrant,
said Doug Weber, director of prison operations for the South Dakota
Department of Corrections.
(source: Associated Press)
Smart on crime
5th in an occasional series on issues that are important in the race for
CAMPAIGNING FOR governor in 1990, Bill Weld coined a catchy phrase to sum
up his criminal justice policy, vowing to "reintroduce our inmates to the
joys of busting rock." What Weld, who had been a prosecutor, had to have
known was that the vast majority of inmates eventually will be released to
the communities they once victimized. About 20,000 inmates are released
from state prisons and county jails each year; 97 % of all prisoners will
leave eventually. When they do, nearly half of them commit new crimes
within a year. Busting rocks made for a great slogan, but it did nothing
to prepare inmates for that inevitable release, increasing the likelihood
they would commit new crimes.
The fear of appearing soft on crime still casts a long shadow in
Massachusetts politics. But for several years now, fortunately, the
pendulum has swung back toward rehabilitation. None of this year's
candidates for governor would subscribe to the busting rocks doctrine. But
being smart on crime, as well as tough, takes leadership. With violence on
the rise and a majority of inmates being released unsupervised, the next
governor will have to make reshaping the state's corrections policy a
If the past 2 years are any indication, it promises to be an uphill
Exhibit A: In 2004, Governor Romney's Commission on Corrections Reform
laid out entrenched problems within the state's prison system -- problems
that cripple the state's ability to ensure that inmates are coming out
less dangerous than when they went in. The number of inmates in maximum
security lock-ups (read: expensive and least conducive to rehabilitation)
has soared, even though the overall prison population stayed flat. The
Department of Correction budget, slated at $425 million for 2007, is
bloated with high salaries and overtime pay.
The clout of prison guards
Over time, corrections managers have allowed the powerful officers' union
to hijack their ability to promote, demote, discipline, and otherwise run
the department efficiently. Many of these problems have yet to be
addressed; last winter, the report's main author, former attorney general
Scott Harshbarger, resigned from the commission in frustration. "We're
stymied by a lack of leadership," he said.
Of all the candidates espousing the tough-but-smart approach to
corrections, Tom Reilly may have the most difficulty making the case that
he is a reformer. On the one hand, his public safety platform is the most
comprehensive of any of the Democratic candidates; it hits many of the
tough-but-smart notes -- reentry programs, more drug abuse and mental
health treatment, and mandatory supervision for former offenders. Reilly
also supports sentencing guidelines that could help curb the
over-classification of inmates to maximum-security prisons.
But Reilly also has the support of the Massachusetts Correctional Officers
Federated Union, the same union that has posed an obstacle to serious
prison reform. Reilly insists that he would be independent. But some of
the campaign's statements are not reassuring. His campaign stopped short
of endorsing the Harshbarger report, saying Reilly would "take a look" at
its recommendations. More revealing was Reilly's promise to "ensure
adequate staffing levels" at the DOC. That posture will surely endear him
to the unions, but it ignores a basic fact laid out in the commission
report: Massachusetts already has the second-highest staff-to-inmate ratio
(1:2) in the country.
Life after lockup
In the governor's race, Harshbarger supports Deval Patrick, who released
his public safety policy last week. In an interview, Patrick called for
limiting access to criminal records by some employers to encourage more
jobs for former offenders. He wasn't shy about his willingness to confront
the unions if necessary. But he seemed almost naive about the pull of law
enforcement unions in this state, a political reality that has stopped
some of the most experienced police and corrections managers in their
tracks. "I read about their power and their influence and so forth,"
Patrick said. "And I guess I need to experience it to appreciate it."
As former chairman of the think-tank MassINC, Chris Gabrieli studied
sentencing guidelines, misclassification of inmates, and the chronic
problem of inmates "wrapping" their sentences: opting for longer sentences
to avoid supervision when they get out. All of these areas, he said,
threaten public safety and need immediate reform.
Gabrieli is vowing a top-to-bottom performance review of the state's
corrections policy. He is not convinced, for example, that every former
offender needs post-release supervision. Quality supervision will be
expensive, and he said he'd rather get more consistent follow-up with
those who pose significant danger than waste money tracking the
No matter who wins the Democratic primary, that candidate will face a
double-edged sword in Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey. Healey's expertise
in criminal justice policy is the real thing: She has extensive knowledge
not only of corrections policy, but of the most innovative reentry efforts
for prisoners. She is advocating the development of reentry plans for
inmates as soon as they begin serving their sentences, and phasing state
prisoners through the county jails as they near their release dates.
But as Romney's number 2, Healey can't duck the administration's glaring
failure to implement major recommendations of the Harshbarger report, even
while claiming to endorse it. Ultimately, it raises questions about
whether her reform-minded rhetoric will translate into real change.
Such questions extend beyond corrections reform: In a state with little
appetite for the death penalty, for example, Healey's and independent
candidate Christy Mihos's support for it will make both vulnerable to
attack from Patrick or Gabrieli, if either of them makes it that far.
Reilly, having changed position 15 years ago, is the only Democrat in the
race who supports capital punishment.
(source: Boston Globe)
Activists continue to rally for justice, prosecution following release of
Nearly a month after a report detailing police torture at Area 2 under
former Lt. Jon Burge, protesters are calling for the prosecution of Burge
and others who allegedly coerced confessions out of more than 100 Black
About three dozen activists rallied in Daley Plaza Friday, unsatisfied
with the nearly 2,000 page report on torture released last month.
Activists and victims of the alleged torture said the multi-million dollar
investigation by special prosecutors Edward Egan and Robert Doyle did not
bring justice to those who suffered as a result of Burge's heavy-handed
Alice Kim, spokeswoman for the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, compared
the allegations of coerced confessions via torture at Areas 2 and 3 over
more than 20 years to torture at Abu Graib.
"This is Abu Graib in Chicago. They don't care about Black people in
Chicago. That's the message," Kim said.
Friday's rally, led by the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, allowed
activists, torture victims and their families to tell their stories.
More than 160 Black men have alleged they were subject to suffocation,
electric shock to the genitals and other body parts, as well as cigarette
burns and other forms of torture meant to illicit confessions for felony
acts between the early 1970s and early 1990s.
The special prosecutor's investigation found sufficient evidence to
prosecute Burge and about 5 other officers in three of the allegations of
police torture under Burge. However, the statute of limitations had run
out on the alleged crimes.
Following the release of the report, it was found that Egan may have had a
conflict of interest. His nephew worked as an officer under Burge, though
Egan contends he has not spoken with the nephew in years.
Mayor Richard M. Daley, who served as Cook County State's Attorney during
the time many of the allegations were made, apologized after the Burge
report was released last month.
The Chicago Police Department, he said, has taken measures to ensure such
activity never happens again, the mayor said.
But Kim called Daley's apology flip, and added that he and his
then-assistant, now State's Attorney, Dick Devine, should also be
prosecuted for ignoring allegations of torture under Burge.
Joey Mogul, an attorney with the People's Law Office, which has
represented many of the alleged torture victims, said while people are
disappointed, angry and even outraged at the report, the movement for
justice will continue.
"It defies logic not to prosecute Burge. And it defies logic not to hold
Daley and Devine accountable," Mogul said.
Though the statute of limitations may have run out on many of the acts of
torture, many of the officers involved in the alleged torture could also
be prosecuted for perjury, she added.
"They testified the torture never occurred. Those are crimes of perjury,"
The 24 men still serving time for crimes they were tortured into
confessing to, Mogul said, deserve a commitment of reparations from the
state as well as counseling.
Mayoral candidate Bill "Dock" Walls, who also attended the rally, agreed
those who served prison time after they were tortured into confessions,
should be compensated for their lost time.
"We have to demand (Gov. Rod) Blagojevich pardon and exonerate those men,"
Though the release of the report resulted in no prosecutions, Mogul said
her office and other activists will continue to fight for justice for
those men who alleged they were tortured by Chicago Police.
"They wanted this to be the last pages in this book, but this is not the
last chapter," Mogul said. "We will continue to litigate and organize
until justice is done."
(source: Chicago Defender)
Goal: Free the innocent
Students don't get paid for the hours of drafting briefs, interviewing
witnesses and poring over decades-old court files at the Indiana
University Law Clinic, but there are some rare perks.
For students in the Wrongful Convictions section of the law clinic 4 years
ago, they got a rare thrill: One of their non-paying clients, Gary native
Larry Mayes, walked out of prison 19 years after a jury convicted him of
rape and robbery.
"It is something you don't get to do a whole lot," said Fran Hardy, the
law professor in charge of the Indiana University Innocence Project. "You
get a lot of experience, and you get to get someone who is innocent out of
Mayes, who spent 22 years imprisoned from the time of his arrest in 1981
to his release, was the first Indiana convict - and so far the only one -
who the Innocence Project at Indiana University has freed.
"We had his case before we had enrolled the first students," Hardy said.
"He was right at the top of the pile."
In 2000 Hardy received Mayes' file from the New York-based Innocence
Project, which serves as a national clearing house for wrongful conviction
Mayes was the 100th person freed from prison by the Innocence Project and
affiliated law schools nationwide. To date, more that 170 convicts -
including 14 who were on death row - have been exonerated, most relying on
Mayes is suing the city of Hammond, claiming detectives in his case
concealed evidence that would have kept him out of jail.
Hardy would not comment on Mayes' case, or the specifics of the efforts
that won him his freedom in 2001. Hardy's is among the names on the
witness list for Mayes' civil trial, though she said Friday she had not
been called to testify.
The list of exonerated felons could be far longer, Hardy said. Hardy
supervises as many as six law students, handling only a handful of the
cases they receive from desperate convicts.
Some 50 cases are awaiting review, not all of them with DNA evidence
available that could provide a fairly clear-cut path to proving the
innocence of the inmate.
Mayes' case took three years of filings, interviews, depositions and 6
semesters' worth of students.
"If you had to get someone out every semester to pass the class, almost
nobody would," Hardy said.
Lake County prosecutors reviewed DNA evidence in Mayes' case, the 1980
rape and robbery of a Hammond gas station clerk. Mayes, who had a criminal
record that included a 1969 rape conviction in Michigan, was sentenced to
80 years in prison.
Under a state law passed in 2001, the law clinic and state Public Defender
won Mayes a final chance at freedom, a post-conviction review that
included DNA testing.
DNA data ruled out Mayes as a culprit, and the county petitioned for his
release - though attorneys for the city have maintained that the DNA
evidence does not prove he is innocent.
Prosecutors maintain that the majority of people behind bars are there for
crimes they did commit, despite a flurry of headline-grabbing cases where
DNA evidence has exonerated convicts.
"I have no problem with (the Innocence Project). People make mistakes, our
system is not perfect," said Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter.
"In a way, it helps us. They legitimate us, because it's only a very small
proportion of people (who) are freed."
In the 1990s, when DNA data was first used in criminal investigations,
analysts needed a nickel-sized spatter of blood or other DNA-carrying
material to make a match.
Now, such small quantities of material - sweat droplets, hair or other
tissue - are needed so that DNA evidence can be used to solve virtually
"What we see highlighted are the cases where people go to jail for years
and years and get out because of DNA," Carter said.
DNA evidence cannot only clear someone's name it may keep them from being
charged in the first place.
"There are thousands of cases in this very state where charges are not
brought because we have DNA that says they weren't the person," Carter
IU and other schools affiliated with the Innocence Project will take cases
where other factors led to a wrongful conviction. Before 1990, DNA
evidence wasn't a factor in criminal investigations. But the New
York-based Innocence Project, founded by famed defense attorneys Barry
Scheck and Peter Neufeld, was founded expressly to seek out cases where
DNA could clear the names of convicts.
In 1981, when Mayes was on trial, no DNA sampling was done at all, and the
"rape kit" - soiled underwear and vaginal swabs taken from the victim -
was apparently lost in an evidence locker until an IU student convinced a
court employee to make a final search.
So in the end, it wasn't just improved technology that freed Larry Mayes,
"It takes a lot of work for these students," she said. "This is what they
got into (law) to do: Right the wrongs, make the world a better place."
(source: Gary Post-Tribune)
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