[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----ALA., MASS., USA
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Jan 3 09:11:07 CST 2006
One of FBI's nost wanted faces trial 19 years after wife's murder
The case has it all - money, power, an international manhunt and a hit by
a killer carrying a gun along with a dozen long-stemmed pink roses.
The defendant is a millionaire businessman who faces the death penalty if
convicted. The victim was an Atlanta socialite whose mother is a state
Nearly 19 years after Lita Sullivan was fatally shot on the doorstep of
her townhouse in the city's Buckhead neighborhood, her husband, James
Sullivan, once one of the FBI's "Most Wanted" fugitives, will go on trial
for murder Thursday in a Fulton County courtroom.
Related charges were thrown out at a federal trial in 1992, but the
Georgia Supreme Court has ruled that double jeopardy does not prevent
Sullivan, 64, from being tried again in state court. Sullivan has pleaded
Prosecutors allege Sullivan paid suspected triggerman Phillip A. "Tony"
Harwood $25,000 to kill his wife because he feared losing money and his
Palm Beach, Fla., mansion in the couple's divorce. Harwood, of Albemarle,
N.C., is serving a 20-year sentence for manslaughter, but in court papers
filed after his guilty plea he claimed he was innocent.
"I don't think our hopes are any different than what they were on day one,
and that is that we find the person who did this, and we believe that is
Mr. Sullivan," said the victim's father, Emory McClinton.
He added that in his mind, even a guilty verdict would not bring closure
for he and his family.
"You always will have memories and remembrances of her," McClinton said.
"When that happens, you will bring back all of the horrors that go along
with that. There's no closure for us in this."
It's been a long road to this point for McClinton and his wife, state Rep.
Jo Ann McClinton.
Their 35-year-old daughter was shot in the head on Jan. 16, 1987, by a
gunman posing as a flower delivery man. Police have said the killer and
possibly 2 other men bought the roses at a florist minutes before the
Prosecutors have relied mostly on circumstantial evidence, including
Harwood's confession, long-distance telephone calls they say Sullivan made
setting up the murder and the testimony of a Beaumont, Texas, woman who
says she was present at a restaurant when Sullivan allegedly paid off
Prosecutors did not know about Harwood when Sullivan was first tried in
federal court, but learned about him several years later when a new lead
surfaced, presumably the statement of the Texas woman, who was Harwood's
girlfriend at the time.
Harwood, a truck driver who moved James Sullivan's furniture from Georgia
to Florida, later agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and testify
against Sullivan. Around the time Sullivan was indicted on state murder
charges in 1998, he fled the country.
In 2002, Sullivan was captured in Thailand, where he had married a local
woman and bought a condominium in a posh beachside neighborhood. He was
extradited to the United States 2 years later. Authorities believe
Sullivan also had spent time in Costa Rica while on the run.
His lead attorney, Don Samuel, said police have charged the wrong man.
"I can't wait to once again prove him innocent," said Samuel, who won a
judge's dismissal of the federal charges.
He said prosecutors have very little new evidence since the 1992 trial.
"The only thing they have in addition is the most incredible witness that
could ever walk into a courtroom, if he walks into the courtroom," Samuel
said sarcastically, referring to Harwood.
Samuel wondered aloud whether prosecutors would even call Harwood to the
stand. Prosecution spokesman Erik Friedly said the state does plan to call
Harwood as a witness.
Samuel would not say whether Sullivan will testify in his own defense. The
trial, which will begin with potential jurors filling out questionnaires
followed by jury selection and then opening statements a few weeks from
now, is expected to last up to 2 months.
Friedly said that after nearly 19 years, his office hopes justice is
"For the McClinton family, this has been a long time coming," Friedly
said. "So we are very pleased that this day has finally come."
(source: Associated Press)
To the editor:
Deadly Debate Traps.
Sunday's Magazine cover story ("Death Wish") was disappointingly shallow,
and -- by its bait-and-switch subtitles -- irresponsible. The cover title
"Is It Time To Bring Back The Death Penalty?" uses 4 factual premises --
all misleading or non sequiturs or both.
What on earth do we learn because 3 (GOP) governors "wanted it," omitting
that they never testify on it? Or that "38 states have it," omitting
declining national execution rates? And, even if nationwide experience
didn't show executions to be irrelevant to "our [or anyone's] rising
murder rate," just who are the supposed, resulting "many [now] debating
it"? Most importantly, there's the age-old laziness trap of citing ("a
majority support it," thrice repeated) misleading polls omitting an option
of Massachusetts' mandatory life imprisonment, which, according to more
meaningful polls, voters now prefer. That's like asking, "Do you want
higher income taxes?" -- without asking about, e.g., either lower property
taxes or cutting services. Indeed, the recent 99N-53Y House vote surely
reflects eroding public support here.
Finally, Texas' execution of Ronald Howard, while poignant, added little
to an overly "balanced" ("he-said-he said") debate with Gov. Romney which
ignored not only the moral and religious issues, but also the overwhelming
evidence (1) disproving deterrence and (2) proving huge costs, racist
application, and human fallibility -- none "solved" by Romney's bill.
Martin Rosenthal, Boston, former Co-Chair, Mass. Citizens Against the
(source: Letter to the Editor, Boston Globe)
Truth, Damn Lies, and Execution
300 years ago, courts of justice could be blinded by superstition. In
those dark times, people in positions of power could snuff out the light
from any candle of hope that the condemned still held for life.
Innumerable falsely accused victims were burned at the stake, ignited by
the flames of flourishing injustice, and fanned by the falsehoods spoke by
their peers. Sadly, no joyous sunrise would come to end their tortured
nights of captivity.
But 300 years later, courts remain hoodwinked by dishonesty. 300 years
later, lives are still tossed to the proverbial pit of fire. 300 years
later, people in positions of power demonstrate that they are impossibly
all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-hearing by summarily judging the actions
of others and then doling out executions with omnipotent strength. And so
I share with you today a reiteration that acts can be neither omniscient
nor omnipotent, that we all have faults, and by extension so do our
governments and judicial conditions.
In a sense, capital punishment is like writing a cheque to purchase the
life of a criminal. A payment, some argue, that is cheaper than supporting
lifelong imprisonment. Yet the laws of Australia, Canada, the United
States of America, and numerous others guarantee the "unalienable Rights"
of Life and Liberty. Our past actions liberated slaves and all but
abolished slavery. Our present actions show that we believe the authority
to limit the life of a human being belongs to no one. But coldheartedly,
these representative cheques continue to be cashed at Banks of Justice,
even though Banks of Life and Liberty would return them marked
We must refuse to endorse Banks of Justice that continue to honour such
cheques. We refuse to believe that money can indemnify human lives,
regardless of the crimes in question. These deplorable bank drafts must be
nullified to redeem our courts of justice and our humanity.
Every moment that our voices remain silent widens the gap between being
human and being humane. There is an urgency that cannot, must not, be
ignored. Every hour of apathy lends credence to legalized vengeance. Now
is the time to speak out for those lost voices smothered behind iron. Now
is the time to turn our backs on barbaric States. Now is the time to tell
the people in power that killing is wrong. Now is the time to teach
compassion to all of our children.
Lives are lost forever by ignoring the fierce urgency of Now. The dark
winter veil of cold-blooded murder will not be lifted until the springtime
infusion of life is guaranteed throughout our societies. And those who
believe that tomorrow will be just another day will have a rude awakening
if the executions continue. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in
the world until unconditional life is granted to all its citizens. The
snowstorm of revolution will not end until the clear dawn of humble
And to the people united on the peaceful threshold of merciful justice: Do
not embark in wrongful deeds. Life cannot be sanctioned by vengeful
actions or riotous demonstrations. No, the Right to Life will not be
chartered by outbursts of physical violence. Our actions must embody this
monumental goal; we must segregate villainous force from moral force.
When light from our morality is used to judge the shadows cast by
criminals, we must appraise ourselves and our laws by the same rays of
ethics. To do otherwise places governments and judicial systems beyond the
reach of mediated introspection, beyond the grasp of justice itself. By
this beam of self-inspection, when a death sentence is dispatched we lift
the offender to the moral equality of societal norms, and find ourselves
standing deep inside the shadows of criminals.
We shall not walk in those shadows.
We will walk without the spectre of hypocrisy to haunt our footfalls. And
as we walk, our steps bring us closer to a golden era that waits ahead.
We cannot turn back.
There are those who oppose the progression toward leniency. They raise
statistics like a stoic hammer, driving the belief that executing
murderers will reduce homicides. However, this interpretation does not a
nail in the coffin make. Numbers are tools to add weight to debates;
debates that must be continually cross-examined for applicability and
accountability. Yet statistics are also the claw to the hammer's head,
pulling out deterrence arguments by suggesting that legitimising murder
through the death penalty actually raises the rate of homicides!
So we will not be satisfied by statistics. We can never be satisfied as
long as the guiltless are slaughtered. We cannot be satisfied when
fallible humans are the judge and the jury to deadly trials. We can never
be satisfied while the Press pilots our opinions with sensationalized
stigma. No, no, we are not satisfied and we will not be satisfied until
tolerance towers like the tallest of trees and forgiveness flowers like an
Let us be mindful that forgetfulness is not a bedfellow of forgiveness. To
forget that many death row inmates committed terrible crimes would let
befall a grave injustice. By the same token, to overlook that the dead can
only be exonerated posthumously defiles the memory of innocent victims.
Instead of incapacitation, let criminals atone for their crimes with
positive contributions to society. Instead of martyrs, make them
educators. Instead of miscreants, fashion them material makers. Instead of
misfits, mold them as missionaries. Instead of being slain for
malevolence, give them the chance to change.
Even though we face the turmoil of retribution, we can see the tenets of
redemption. Within these tenets, I, too, have a dream.
I dream of a day when no human will have the right to revoke the life from
I dream of a day when miscarriage of justice does not result in fresh
flowers to a solitary grave, but in the freedom of an unjustly accused
I dream of a day when even the ghosts of Salem Massachusetts, whose deaths
were inconceivably shackled to "spectral evidence", and whose memories
still mock modern justice, may finally find peace.
I dream of a people who understand that no heated crime warrants a cold
resolution by death; that death is unjustly everlasting when pit against
both fleeting and permanent transgressions; and that humane disciplines
can meet the needs of society while being a fair reproach for felonies.
I have a dream today!
I dream of a world where we can judge our justice systems as though they
were individuals: not by the colour of their skin, but by the content of
their character. Where at the highest courts of international law we find
that justice is morally, ethically, and logically consistent across all
I have a dream today!
I dream of a world in which Mercy opens the Door of Knowledge to reveal
that the real truth in any situation can never be known entirely. A world
in which we are keenly aware that the whirlwind of motives, emotions,
psyche, and actions behind a trial cannot be judged and punished with
absolute conviction. A world that has cast off the rattling chains of
death to embrace the foundations of life.
I dream of a world without injustice buried within injustice. A world
where the poverty line does not foreshadow a flatline. A world where the
accused wealthy and the convicted poor face their fates with equal
outcomes and equal opportunities. A world where the concept of just
justice is not an ironic fairytale, but a practical reality.
This is our dream, a dream inspired by an extraordinary man.
In the spirit of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, a man who made an enormous
march for liberty, these words strive to be an extension of his ideas, a
continuation to his ideals. But this time the walk is for life. And along
the road to the global abolishment of capital punishment sits a world that
is one small step closer to unity. It is only through this journey will
our collective conscience truly be free at last.
(source: Dave Jarvis)
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