[Deathpenalty]death penalty news-----CALIF., ARK., MO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Mon Jan 16 22:15:03 CST 2006
Supreme Court denies stay of execution -- Clarence Ray Allen to be put to
death just after midnight
The U.S. Supreme Court denied Clarence Ray Allen's request for a stay of
execution today, clearing the way for the state to put the 76-year-old
inmate to death by lethal injection at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday for ordering
three murders from his prison cell a quarter century ago.
The court turned down Allen's final appeals at 2:05 p.m. today. One
justice, Stephen Breyer, cast a dissenting vote, saying Allen was entitled
to review of his claim that his execution would be unconstitutional
because of his age, feeble condition and multiple illnesses.
Allen "is 76 years old, blind, suffers from diabetes, is confined to a
wheelchair and has been on death row for 12 years," Breyer said. "I
believe that in the circumstances he raises a significant question as to
whether his execution would constitute cruel and unusual punishment."
There were no comments from the other justices. 5 votes on the 9-member
court were needed for a stay of execution.
Allen, who turned 76 on Monday, would be the oldest prisoner ever executed
in California and the second-oldest in the United States since the Supreme
Court allowed executions to resume in 1976 after a 4-year halt. California
has executed 12 other inmates since resuming executions in 1992, most
recently Stanley Tookie Williams, a onetime gang leader who became an
anti-gang crusader and author of children's books in prison. He died by
lethal injection at San Quentin on Dec. 13.
The Supreme Court order followed a ruling against Allen on Sunday by the
Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, and denial of
clemency on Friday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Allen was not surprised
by the court's final rejection, said his lawyer, Michael Satris.
"He's making his peace ... bidding goodbyes to a large circle of his
family and friends," Satris said at mid-afternoon. The attorney said the
execution would be "a low point in the history of California's
administration of the death penalty."
Allen was 1st convicted of murder for the 1974 killing of his son's
girlfriend, Mary Sue Kitts, a witness to a Fresno grocery store burglary
by a gang of thieves led by Allen. While serving a life sentence in Folsom
Prison, he was convicted of ordering the 1980 murders of 3 people at the
same grocery store, one of them a witness to the earlier killing.
The gunman in the 1980 killings, Billy Ray Hamilton, was also sentenced to
death and is on San Quentin's death row. Prosecutors said Hamilton, a
fellow inmate at Folsom before his parole, was given a list of 8 people
who had testified against Allen for the 1974 murder. Another inmate
testified that Allen offered Hamilton $25,000 to kill them.
Federal courts denied Allen's challenge to his death sentence despite
finding that he was represented inadequately by his trial lawyer, who
failed to contact relatives and friends who might have testified for him
at the penalty phase of his trial. Allen remains dangerous to society even
while behind bars, and no jurors would have been persuaded to spare his
life by evidence that he had been nice to some people at some point in his
life, a federal appeals court declared in 2004.
Allen has continued to deny his guilt. But his final appeal did not
challenge his conviction or sentence and instead focused on his physical
condition, including a near-fatal heart attack last September.
"To wheel Mr. Allen, a blind, aged, crippled and enfeebled man, into the
execution chamber at San Quentin to be put to death would be a bizarre
spectacle that shocks the conscience and offends fundamental notions of
human decency," his lawyers said in an appeal last month. They said Allen,
if allowed to finish his life in prison, posed no risk of harm to anyone.
The federal appeals court rejected those arguments Sunday. The court said
Supreme Court rulings have barred execution of juveniles and the mentally
retarded, who may not have fully understood the consequences of their
actions, as well as prisoners who were currently insane and unable to
understand that they were being executed. But no U.S. court has found a
barrier to executing someone like Allen, who was a mentally sound
50-year-old when he ordered the murders and remains sane today, the
appeals court said.
"Nothing about his current ailments reduces his culpability and thus they
do no lessen the retributive or deterrent purposes of the death penalty,"
the court said.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Death penalty perverts Christianity, say church leaders
Protestant leaders in Austria have called on the governor of California,
Arnold Schwarzenegger to suspend the death penalty and spare the life of
an elderly convict on death row.
And a Catholic sister who has spent her life counselling both those who
commit, or are victims of, capital crime says that Christian supporters of
the judicial executions are perverting the message of Jesus Christ.
"A country which uses the death penalty violates its citizens' human
dignity," the Evangelical Church in Austria said in advance of the
scheduled execution of 76-year-old Clarence Ray Allen on 17 January 2006.
Mr Schwarzenegger is of Austrian origins, though he and his home city,
Graz, site of the 2nd European Ecumenical Assembly in 1997, have recently
disowned one another.
Clarence Ray Allen is blind, diabetic, has a weak heart and is
wheelchair-bound. He has been on death row for 26 years. His lawyers argue
that it would be cruel to kill him because of his infirmity, though they
do not deny the extent of his crime.
The Austrian church leaders are taking their stand on the more fundamental
judgement that contemporary "biblical and theological arguments point only
to a clear and unambiguous 'no' to the death penalty."
This is a position that puts them in direct confrontation with the
religious right in the United States.
Mr Allen already was serving a life sentence for murder - arranging the
strangulation of a witness to his 1974 burglary of a Fresno-area store -
when he was condemned to die for calling from his prison cell for the 1980
shotgun slayings of 3 of that store's employees.
California has 646 people on death row, more than any other state. Last
month Governor Schwarzenegger refused appeals against the execution of
'Tookie' Williams, the Crips gang leader who recanted his criminal past
and spent many years campaigning against gang violence from his prison
Christian opponents of the death penalty, including Sister Helen Prejean,
whose story was dramatized 10 years ago in the film Dead Man Walking, say
that it is merciless, discriminates against the poor, denies the reality
of redemption and risks killing the innocent.
Sr Helen was in the UK last week promoting her new book, Death of the
Innocents. She has attended the executions of men she knows to be guilty
of horrific crimes, but also of those she believes to be wrongly
convicted, and prays with and counsels their families and those of their
The Louisiana-based nun, aged 66, insists that US politicians' rhetoric is
moderating and that the number of death penalty convictions is in decline.
Public uneasiness about wrongful convictions and the manifest inequity
with which the death penalty is implemented is growing, she says. Opinion
polls bear this out.
Sister Helen is especially scathing about politicians and judges who use
the Bible to justify executions.
"I call it Christianity-lite", she declares. "It's not real Christianity.
Truly it is blasphemy. Jesus Christ is being held hostage by these people:
his whole message is being perverted."
State Not To Seek Death Penalty In Conway Murder
The state will not seek the death penalty for 2 men charged with the
capital murder of a 91-year-old Conway man.
21-year-old Jarrius Williams and 25-year-old Raymon Brown are both charged
in the July 21st shooting death of Opal Veasley.
The victim was found dead in his Conway home after an apparent robbery.
Last week a judge rescheduled the defendants' pretrial hearing for
February 9th because authorities are awaiting results of Williams' mental
(source: KATV News)
Death Penalty Expert and others at the CMSU Canadian-USJustice Issues
For all interested in death penalty issues:
Attached is the current schedule for the Canadian-U.S. Justice Issues
being held on the campus of Central Missouri State University, February
20-21, 2006. We especially invite you and your colleagues to take part in
the presentation of Mark Warren of Human Rights Research, Canada. Mr.
Warren specializes in the application of international law to death
penalty cases. Mark has worked extensively with capital defense teams in
the United States and has assisted them in raising international law
claims in many venues, including the U.S. Supreme Court, the Supreme Court
of Canada and the International Court of Justice. He was also a member of
Mexico's legal team in its successful lawsuit against the United States at
the International Court of Justice (Avena and Other Mexican Nationals),
addressing violations of consular rights in over 50 cases of Mexican
nationals on death row. His research on consular rights and the U.S. death
penalty was recently cited by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor in Medellin v.
Dretke, 125 S.Ct. 2088, 2096 (2005).
Mr. Warren will be making a plenary talk at our conference on
Canadian-U.S. Justice Issues.
Tuesday, February 21, 7;00 p.m. -- Elliott University Union Ballroom
Central Missouri State University -- Warrensburg, MO 64093
Other speakers have been invited to address the conference as well.
Among these are:
Ron Melchers, University of Ottawa, "Information management and risk
assessment in investigations: The Maher Arar Case"
Cece Cox, Dallas, "Canadian & US Views of Same-Sex Marriage"
Sonia Akibo-Betts, Ottawa, "The Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement:
Why the U.S. is Not a Safe Haven for Refugee Women Asserting Gender-Based
John Braithwaite Corrections Services of Canada, will be speaking on the
unique program for life sentenced prisoners.
Supt Joe Oliver, RCMP; Deborah Robinson; Legal Services RCMP; & Bruce L.
Cooke, U.S. Dept of Homeland Security in Ottawa, "Border Protection"
William H. Parrish, Virginia Commonwealth University, former U.S.
Department of Homeland Security Senior Representative to the FBI,
"Cooperative Efforts on National Security."
All sessions are ree and open to the general public.
Donald H. Wallace, Professor
Criminal Justice Department
Central Missouri State University
Warrensburg, MO 64093 USA
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