[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----USA, GA., N.C., US MIL., LA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Dec 6 04:33:07 UTC 2006
Report: Death Penalty Creates More Victims----Family members, especially
children, suffer in the aftermath of an execution
Families of the executed are victims too, according to a new report that
Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights will release on December 10.
"Creating More Victims: How Executions Hurt the Families Left Behind"
draws upon the stories of three dozen family members of people executed in
the United States and demonstrates that their experiences and traumatic
symptoms resemble those of others who have suffered a violent loss.
"It's something you don't ever get over," said Pam Crawford, one of the
family members featured in the report. Crawford, a Charlotte native, is
the sister of a man who was executed in Alabama in 1996. She described the
nightmares and other difficulties that her teenaged granddaughter still
experiences in the aftermath of the execution.
Other family members agreed that children, in particular, suffer as they
struggle to understand a relative's death at the hands of the state. "What
impact does this event have on children's impressionable lives, and what
cost does society pay for that impact?" asks Robert Meeropol, another
survivor featured in the report. Meeropol's parents, Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg, were executed in New York when Meeropol was 6 years old.
As a victims' organization, Murder Victims' Families for Human Rights
(MVFHR) researched and published the report to highlight the similarities
between the experiences of survivors of homicide victims and survivors of
people who are executed. "Family members of the executed are the death
penalty's invisible victims," said Renny Cushing, executive director of
MVFHR. "With each execution, we create a new grieving family who
experience many familiar symptoms of trauma, some of them long-lasting. As
a society, what are we doing to address the suffering of these families?"
"Creating More Victims" includes recommendations for mental health
professionals, educators, and child welfare advocates. MVFHR also plans to
deliver the report to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights
and request that that office undertake further study of the impact of
executions on surviving families.
(source: BBS News)
Lawyer says death row client not strangler ---- Defense: Columbus case
A lawyer for the so-called Columbus stocking strangler said Tuesday that
serendipitously discovered new evidence bolsters his claim that his death
row client, Carlton Gary, was wrongly convicted of raping and murdering
three elderly women 20 years ago.
Attorney Jack Martin said the evidence which he says had been suppressed
by prosecutors until now suggests Gary was not the man who terrified
Columbus residents in 1978 and '79 during an eight-month crime spree that
left victims strangled with their own stockings.
"This case is a tragic example of the prosecution refusing to reveal to
the defense powerful physical evidence pointing toward innocence which has
only been discovered by chance decades later," he said.
No one from the state attorney general's office could be reached for
comment Tuesday evening.
Martin filed a motion with the federal court in Columbus on Monday asking
for a hearing for consideration of the new evidence. Among the items:
During Gary's original trial and the appeals process, prosecutors did not
disclose that they had made a mold of a bite mark found on the breast of
one of the victims, Martin said. The defense was later told that the mold
was lost or had been misplaced.
Then, while cleaning out his office, the Muscogee County coroner found the
mold, which allowed a forensic dentist to compare it with a mold of Gary's
teeth, Martin said.
The dentist concluded "to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty"
that several inconsistencies show that Gary was "probably not the biter."
Defense attorneys, during Gary's original trial, also were not told that
police had obtained shoe print sizes from the scene of 2 attacks that Gary
had been tied to.
Martin learned of the shoe prints when a GBI agent called him last year.
The agent had been part of the GBI task force on the case, but later
He provided Martin with photocopies of one of the prints. It was of a size
9 shoe. Gary wears a size 13 1/2.
Martin found a similar discrepancy while reviewing shoe prints obtained
from a 2nd crime scene. That didn't match, either, he said.
The new evidence do not involve the 3 victims Gary was convicted of
strangling. But in their efforts to prove Gary committed those murders,
prosecutors implicated him in the raping and killing four others in a
virtually identical manner. He was not tried in those cases.
"If the evidence now shows he didn't commit one of these crimes, it proves
he didn't commit any of them," Martin said.
Gary was arrested May 3, 1984, after Columbus police traced to him a gun
that had been stolen from a home in the neighborhood where the killings
He has maintained that he only burglarized the home and that an accomplice
carried out the rapes and murders.
(source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Life sentence imposed after Gaston jury deadlocks on death
In Gastonia, a man convicted of killing four people in 2003 at a Gaston
County mobile home was sentenced to life in prison without parole today.
Keith Lavoris Hall was sentenced after a jury deadlocked on imposing a
death sentence for 2 of the killings.
Prosecutors had sought a death sentence in the mass killings, which they
described as the worst in more than a decade.
Hall was convicted of 4 counts of murder last month.
The victims were Billy Joe Collins of Clover, South Carolina; Crystal
Ellis and Melissa Petrie, both of Gastonia; and Amanda "Shelly" Sossamon
of Mount Holly.
Police said at the time that robbery appeared to be the motive and that
Hall knew the victims.
Hall's girlfriend, Crystal Renee Goins, also was charged with 4 counts of
1st-degree murder and 1 count of armed robbery. No trial date has been set
(source: Associated Press)
U.S. Unlikely to Sentence Soldiers to Death in Wartime
The final month of 2006 will be one to remember because of the first 2 --
of perhaps many -- U.S. army servicemen will face charges that can carry
the death penalty for crimes committed in Iraq.
Yet, 2007 may well be the year the U.S. military decides instead to spare
their lives and sentence them to life in prison.
Both Sgt. Paul Cortez and Private First Class Jesse Spielman are scheduled
to appear separately in military court in mid-December. Together with
three other defendants -- Pfc. Bryan Howard, Specialist James Barker, and
discharged former Private Steven Green --, the men are accused of raping a
14-year-old girl and murdering her and her family last March near the
Iraqi city of Al-Mahmudiyah.
Cortez, Spielman, and Howard face court martial proceedings at Fort
Campbell, Kentucky, headquarters for the 101st Airborne Division where
they served. Green has pleaded not guilty to murder and sexual assault and
is facing federal charges.
Barker pleaded guilty to numerous charges, including premeditated murder,
to avoid the death penalty. He received a 90-year prison sentence in late
Those airmen are not the only military personnel who could face charges
for war crimes that carry possible death sentences.
A U.S. sailor and seven marines are accused of killing an Iraqi man in
Hamdaniya on Apr. 26. Another 6 to 8 Marines, who allegedly killed 24
Iraqi civilians in November 2005 in Haditha, could also face execution.
An investigation into the Haditha incident by the Naval Criminal
Investigative Service (NCIS) is ongoing to determine if charges against
the marines should be filed. The marines currently are restricted to the
base-grounds of Camp Pendleton, California, pending the findings of the
While Barker avoided execution, his manoeuvre raises the question of
whether military personnel could be sentenced to death, even if the crimes
for which they are found guilty were committed in wartime.
Although the law clearly states they can, politically such a sentence
would not be possible, said Lee D. Schinasi, a retired Army Judge Advocate
General's Corps (JAG) colonel who is now an associate professor of law at
Barry University in Orlando, Florida..
"I don't think that you will see it (the death penalty) applied these days
in relation to all of these alleged cases, because the average civilian
American is aware of the tremendous pressures that soldiers are under
during wartime," Schinasi told IPS. "To carry out the killing of a soldier
who has been found guilty of a crime committed during wartime has
There is a loyalty between the U.S. public and its soldiers, said
Schinasi, who likened the relationship to a social contract. "If capital
punishment was carried out on a soldier convicted of a crime committed
during wartime that would be perceived as a violation of that social
contract," Schinasi said.
Put simply: The public supports its soldiers because the military protects
the public, Schinasi said.
Military services in other countries deal with the situation differently.
Soldiers found guilty of war crimes in Europe, for instance, would face
life imprisonment, said Diane Amann, a specialist on the subject, who is
also a professor at the University of California-Davis law school.
Even in international tribunals that dealt with wartime crimes committed
in Rwanda and the former Yugoslovia, former military officers found guilty
of some horrific crimes received life imprisonment, she told IPS.
The United Nations will not allow war crimes to be tried in Rwanda until
that African nation agrees to abolish the death penalty. In contrast,
although the U.S. stated it would introduce a more modern constitution in
Iraq when it toppled Saddam Hussein, it still has allowed that nascent
nation to maintain capital punishment. In November, Hussein, along with
some military officers, was sentenced to hang. That verdict is on appeal.
U.S. soldiers have been executed during wartime before, but these
incidents are rare and sometimes controversial. During the U.S. Civil War,
Confederate army captain Henry Wirz, commander of the notorious
Andersonville prison, was hung in November 1865, after the end of the war,
on charges of "impairing the health and destroying the lives of
prisoners." The prison, built to hold captured Union soldiers and in
existence for only 14 months, housed 45,000 soldiers -- nearly one-third
of whom died in captivity.
Private Eddie Slovik was executed for desertion in 1945, the final year of
World War II. He was the only soldier of the 49 who had been sentenced to
die who actually was shot. The last execution of a soldier in the U.S.
military justice system occurred in April 1961, for charges of rape and
As of January 2006, the Department of Defence states that executions would
be conducted not via firing squad but through lethal injection.
Kathleen Duignan, executive director of the National Institute of Military
Justice in Washington, DC, told IPS the four-step process in the U.S.
military justice system that is required to impose a death sentence
ensures that the military judge and a panel of military officers must
agree that a capital offence exists, and that the decision to execute must
"Ultimately, after all levels of review, the case would go to the
president of the United States for approval. The president must personally
approve execution of the sentence and even then the sentence can be
delayed on federal habeas review," said Duignan.
Though it is not used often, the United States apparently feels the need
to maintain the death penalty among its military ranks, agreed Amann and
"The reason why the death penalty isn't taken off of the (U.S. military
justice) system," Schinasi said, "is for the same reason that it stays on
the civilian law books -- to show society that there are certain crimes
that people wouldn't put up with."
(source: IPS News)
Prosecutors To Seek Death Penalty Against Confessed Serial Killer
Authorities in Louisiana say they will seek the death penalty against a
man who has confessed to killing 23 men over an 8-year period.
42-year-old Ronald Dominique says he had sex with the men, then strangled
or suffocated them and dumped their bodies.
He faces 11 murder charges.
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said Dominique confessed to
killing the men, all between the ages of 16 and 46, between 1997 and 2005.
Larpenter says Dominique "stated how, when and where they were killed."
The victims' bodies were found in 7 different south Louisiana parishes.
All were found bound and had been killed in similar fashion, leading
investigators to suspect the work of a serial killer.
(source: KWTX News)
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