[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA, FLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jan 25 13:22:19 CST 2006
Federal executions set to double in single week
The number of executions carried out by the U.S. federal government since
1988 is set to double in May, with three lethal injections scheduled in a
Convicted murderers Richard Tipton, Cory Johnson and James Roane are
scheduled to die in the federal death chamber in Terre Haute, Indiana, on
May 9, May 10 and May 12, respectively.
"They don't have much in the way of legal resources remaining other than a
clemency petition to President George W. Bush," said David Elliot of the
National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
The 3 were members of an inner-city gang in Richmond, Virginia, sentenced
to death in 1993 for taking part in a series of drug-related murders. All
three are black.
In the U.S. criminal justice system most crimes are prosecuted by states
rather than the federal government. Last year, all 60 executions carried
out were administered by states.
The federal death penalty was reinstated in November 1988 with the
introduction of a law designed to combat drug trafficking known as the
Drug Kingpin Act. Since then, Congress has added over 50 other crimes that
qualify for death.
They include kidnapping resulting in death, murder for hire, fatal
drive-by shootings, sexual abuse crimes resulting in death, fatal
carjackings or aircraft hijackings and sending materials through the mail
with the intent of killing.
Congress is currently discussing new additions that would expand the
federal death penalty even further.
"There was a dramatic jump in the number of federal capital crimes in the
1990s as Congress expanded its jurisdiction over criminal acts that have
traditionally been under the purview of the states," said Ginny Sloan of
The Constitution Project based at Georgetown University's Public Policy
"It's also become a way for politicians to show voters they are 'tough on
crime,'" she said.
The most notorious person put to death at Terre Haute was Timothy McVeigh,
convicted of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 people.
Since then, only two others have been executed for federal crimes and the
last execution was in 2003. There are currently 41 people on federal death
row, 24 of whom are black.
The government is seeking the death penalty for Zacarias Moussaoui, who
has pleaded guilty to 6 counts of conspiracy in connection with the
September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.
A jury in Alexandria, Virginia, will determine whether Moussaoui gets the
death penalty or life imprisonment in a trial scheduled to begin next
In general, the number of executions in the United States has been falling
in recent years, even while the federal death penalty expands in scope.
"The states are cutting back on their use of the death penalty, while the
federal government is expanding," said Richard Dieter of the Death Penalty
So far this year there have been 2, with another scheduled Wednesday night
in Texas. Marion Dudley faces execution for the 1992 shooting deaths of 3
people in a Houston drug house.
Critics argue that the federal death penalty is racially biased against
minorities. If the 3 executions go forward in May, 5 of the 6 people put
to death would have been either black or Hispanic.
A Department of Justice study released in 2000 found that 80 % of the
cases submitted by prosecutors for death penalty review were against
Supreme Court to Hear Death Row Appeal
The Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear a Florida death row inmate's
appeal that challenges that state's lethal injection method, just hours
after the court dramatically stepped in to stop the man's execution.
Clarence Hill's lawyer said that he had been strapped to a gurney with IV
lines running into his arms Tuesday night when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy
issued a temporary stay.
The full court made the stay permanent, and ordered both sides to file
Hill argues that the 3 chemicals used in Florida's lethal injection method
of execution cause pain, making his execution cruel and unusual
punishment. His lawyer also contends that Hill is mentally retarded.
He is on death row for the Oct. 19, 1982, slaying of Pensacola police
Officer Stephen Taylor, 26, and the wounding of his partner, Larry Bailly,
when they responded to a silent alarm of a bank robbery.
Hill's case allows the court to revisit a 2004 ruling in an Alabama death
case, in which justices said that David Larry Nelson could pursue a
last-ditch claim that his death by lethal injection would be
unconstitutionally cruel because of his damaged veins.
While Hill does not have damaged veins, his appeal cites medical studies
about the drug cocktail used by Florida and other states.
An appeals court had said he brought the challenge too late.
His lawyer, D. Todd Doss, told justices that there is a risk that he will
not be properly anesthetized at the time of his death.
(source: Associated Press)
Killer awaits court decision on execution
Condemned inmate Clarence Hill is awaiting word today from the U.S.
Supreme Court on whether it will lift the stay that blocked his execution
for the 1982 murder of a Pensacola police officer.
Hill had been strapped to a gurney and IV lines were running into his arms
Tuesday night, his attorney says, when Justice Anthony M. Kennedy issued
the stay. Kennedy's order gave the court more time to consider whether the
chemicals used in Florida's lethal injections cause pain and are cruel and
unusual punishment. If the stay is lifted, Hill could be executed
"He's alive and we are still fighting for his life," said Hill's attorney,
D. Todd Doss.
Doss said he filed appeals immediately with the Supreme Court on Tuesday
after they were denied by a federal appeals court in Atlanta.
Doss does not know how long the stay will last. It could be lifted today
or remain in effect for months.
He got a chance to talk to Hill after the stay was imposed.
"He was thankful to be alive," Doss said. "He was very tired."
Carolyn Snurkowski, a death appeals attorney for Attorney General Charlie
Crist, said Wednesday that her office was also awaiting a ruling by the
high court, as was the Florida Department of Corrections.
In a flurry of last-minute appeals, Hill, 48, claimed he was mentally
retarded and should not be executed, and he also had challenged the
state's use of execution drugs.
Later Tuesday night the Supreme Court rejected 1 of Hill's 3 appeals, but
did not act on the remaining 2.
A total of 29 witnesses had gathered at the Florida State Prison, in an
observation room separated from the execution chamber by windows. Their
view was blocked by a brown curtain remained drawn. Some witnesses
exchanged notes while waiting.
The witnesses, who included Florida Senate President Tom Lee and several
of the victim's relatives, were sent home after Kennedy filed paperwork
that said Hill's death sentence would "be stayed pending further order" of
Witnesses and journalists remained at the execution site for about an
hour, waiting for further information, as officials awaited a court
Earlier, Hill had lost appeals at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
Hill is sentenced to die for the Oct. 19, 1982, slaying of Pensacola
police Officer Stephen Taylor, 26, and the wounding of his partner, Larry
Bailly, when they responded to a silent alarm of a bank robbery at Freedom
Federal Savings Bank.
Hill shot Taylor in the back as he tried to handcuff his accomplice.
Bailly returned fire, wounding Hill.
Hill was to be the 61st inmate executed in Florida since 1976, when
executions resumed after a 12-year moratorium, and the 257th since 1924,
when the state took that duty from individual counties.
Hill's accomplice was sentenced to life in prison.
(source: Associated Press)
Cop-killer's execution could stay on hold
The U.S. Supreme Court stay that spared Clarence Hill's life Tuesday night
is expected to continue to keep him alive, with no action today even if
the stay, signed by Justice Anthony Kennedy, is lifted.
Hill was set to die for the 1982 shooting death of Pensacola police
officer Stephen Taylor. Gov. Jeb Bush in November signed Hill's death
warrant, setting the time for his execution at 6 p.m. Final appeals before
circuit courts and the Florida Supreme Court and federal appeals courts
But Hill's attorneys had three pending motions before the nation's highest
court and Kennedy granted the stay based on a filing that argued lethal
injection is cruel and unusual punishment. Kennedy rejected 2 other
Florida Assistant Attorney General Carolyn Snurkowski, who is handling the
state's arguments in Hill's appeals, said the appeal that resulted in the
stay was rejected Tuesday afternoon by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals
in Atlanta. An appeal was then filed with the Supreme Court at 4:45 p.m.,
just more than an hour before the scheduled execution. The state filed its
responses at 5.
Hill's attorney, Todd Doss, was not available this morning.
Kennedy's stay didn't come until 7 p.m.
For an hour, witnesses that included Taylor's brother and sister, sat
silently, staring forward at their own reflections in the glass panes that
separate the witness room from the death chamber. A brown curtain stayed
drawn, never opened to signal the execution was proceeding. Shortly after
7 p.m., assistant warden Randall Polk announced the stay and witnesses
were led out.
Department of Corrections officials will not say if Hill was strapped to a
gurney, a needle inserted in his arm to deliver deadly chemicals, during
that time. A department guidelines document indicates the condemned is
already in the death chamber when witnesses are brought in.
"We were prepared to proceed," said Debbie Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the
department, in what she described as a prepared statement vetted by
Robby Cunningham, also a department spokesman, said officers remain "on
But Russell Schweiss, a spokesman in Bush's office, said an execution
today is not expected.
Snurkowski said the death warrant signed against Hill remains valid for a
week, a clock that began running at noon on Monday. If the stay is lifted,
she said, the governor would discuss with the warden about readiness to
conduct the execution. Another execution, of A.D. Rutherford, is scheduled
for 6 p.m. next Tuesday.
For now, Hill awaits a further order from Kennedy. In his order Tuesday
night he said the stay could be lifted by him alone or the entire court.
"I don't predict," Snurkowski said.
(source: The News-Press)
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