[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----MO., MD., USA, OKLA.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Jan 27 09:11:19 CST 2006
Lethal injection process challenged----Missouri inmate among those whose
execution was stayed.
Michael Taylor had his execution stayed when an attorney challenged lethal
Michael Taylor doesn't want to die.
He has been sentenced to death after being convicted of the rape and
murder of 15-year-old Ann Harrison on March 22, 1989.
He has spent almost 15 years in Missouri's Potosi Correctional Center. His
only hope to avoid execution and instead spend life in prison may be a
hearing set for Feb. 21 that challenges the constitutionality of
Missouri's lethal injection process.
A federal judge last week issued a stay of Taylor's Feb. 1 execution in
response to his lawyer's request for a hearing to present evidence
challenging the lethal injection process. The Missouri attorney general's
office has filed a motion asking that the judge vacate the stay.
There has been no response to the motion.
Taylor's lawyer, John William Simon of St. Louis, has since filed a
federal court action arguing that the three drugs the state uses in
executions create a risk of gratuitous pain that is not necessary to carry
out "the mere extinguishment of life."
Last year, Missouri executed 5 inmates, the 2nd highest number, behind
Texas, in the U.S. Nationwide, 2005 saw 60 executions in the 38 states
that use the death penalty.
Taylor's challenge is one of several cases nationwide that contest the
drugs used for lethal injection, said Richard Dieter, executive director
of the Death Penalty Information Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit group.
"It is a justified challenge," Dieter said. "People are being put in
severe pain, so it's something that should be tried."
Ann Harrison's family, who live in Kansas City, could not be reached for
In Missouri, each of the 66 executions carried out since the reinstatement
of the death penalty in 1976 has been by lethal injection. Missouri
statutes allow either lethal injection or lethal gas.
In 2004, New Jersey halted all executions when the Appellate Division of
New Jersey's Supreme Court called for an examination of the state's lethal
injection process. In December 2005, the New Jersey Senate enacted a
moratorium on all executions.
On Thursday, according to the Associated Press, a federal appeals court
blocked the execution of an Indiana inmate who challenged the legality of
On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution of Florida
inmate Clarence Hill in an agreement to consider whether prisoners can use
their civil rights to challenge the chemicals used in the execution. The
court issued the surprise decision while Hill was strapped to a gurney
with intravenous lines running into his arms.
Dieter said veterinarians have abandoned some of the same drugs, which
formerly were used in animal euthanasia, because of pain concerns.
Though Taylor's challenge is not new, Dieter said no case has been
successful thus far.
John Fougere, spokesman for the Attorney General's office, said, "We do
have a motion on file to vacate the stay, right now, our motion speaks for
In an hour-long telephone interview Wednesday, Taylor said he wouldn't
have pled guilty had he known he would receive the death penalty. His
counsel told him he had no chance in front of a jury and a judge would be
The system set to try him had allowed plenty of men before him plead
guilty in exchange for life without parole sentences.
Ray Shawn Jackson, a 22-year-old, had raped and murdered 6 women, and the
Jackson County Prosecutor's office allowed him to plead guilty in exchange
for life. Eugene Chrisman, a 32-year-old who raped and murdered a woman,
and Bob Berdella, a serial killer who raped and murdered 5 men, had
entered into similar plea bargains with the Jackson County Prosecutor's
office. Albert Riederer, the prosecuting attorney of Jackson County, had a
reputation for seeking life without parole in 1st-degree murder trials.
Taylor's potential judge, Judge Alvin Randall, had never meted out the
With this information, Taylor opted to plead guilty in June 1989, issuing
a video-taped confession of the crime.
The night before Taylor raped and killed Ann Harrison, he stopped by his
mother's house in Kansas City. He was 22-years-old. His mother later told
courts he was wearing "dirty, slept-in clothes." She wanted to get him
help for his drug abuse, she said. Taylor responded, "Mama, only God can
help me now."
Then he left.
He spent the rest of that night with Roderick Nunley, a 24-year-old man
with a history of violence. Court testimonies report that the two men were
high on crack cocaine when they pulled up next to Harrison, who was
standing at a bus stop at 7 a.m. the next morning. Harrison was an honor
student, an athlete and flutist. From the window of the stolen 1984
Chevrolet Monte Carlo they were driving, Taylor and Nunley spotted
Harrison holding a purse.
"We wanted her purse," Taylor told the court. They confessed to grabbing
the girl, stuffing her into the car and driving her to the basement of
Nunley's mother's house. Though each had accused the other of raping
Harrison, DNA tests linked Taylor directly to the rape.
Later, the men forced Harrison into the trunk of the Monte Carlo and
stabbed her to death. Both men testified that she offered money in the
hopes that they would spare her life. Both Nunley and Taylor accused each
other of instigating her murder, but Taylor finally admitted to it.
"I regretted it immediately," Taylor said. "I watched somebody lose their
life. I've always tried to extend some kind of apology to (the Harrisons).
I'm deeply sorry. I know they wouldn't understand what happened with me,
but I totally wanted them to know. Man, I'm sorry. I really am."
Before Jackson County officials linked him to Harrison's murder, police
arrested Taylor for violating his parole on an earlier charge of robbery.
"When I first got arrested for violating my parole, I was happy. I wanted
to get this guilt off my back," he said. "I was lost. It made me look
within, concerning what I had been involved in. From that day on, I
started to ask for my forgiveness."
When Taylor entered the sentencing trial in front of Randall, he expected
life without parole, even though Riederer and the Jackson County
Prosecution office had rejected his plea bargain. Reiderer did not return
On May 3, 1991, after listing evidence and legal findings, Randall
announced, "The sentence is death."
Taylor feels he fell through the cracks.
After a series of shake-ups and run-arounds with attorneys, in what he
calls "the judicial playground," he was left with no hope of appeal. In
early January 2006, officials transferred him to the state prison at Bonne
Terre, where he spends all day in the observation room, a single cell 10
feet away from where he will be executed.
Speaking out against drugs is something he's passionate about now. There's
no Band-Aid for curing drug abuse, he says, but he wants to act as a voice
to youth on the street. He's become very spiritual in prison, he says, and
works with nonprofit groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and a
youth enlightenment program.
He won't give up hope.
"You can't let prison kill your thirst, your zest, your goals. I still
have goals," he said.
His goals aren't just for himself. He sees the lethal injection case as a
case for all inmates.
"I gotta have hope," he said. "This trial isn't just for me. It's for all
death row inmates. I hope somewhere along the lines, people look at this
and see that the taking of someone's life is inhumane in any way."
(source: Columbia Missourian)
Hearing set Friday on request for execution stay----Evans' lawyer
challenging constitutionality of Md.'s lethal injection process
A hearing will be conducted Friday in federal court on a condemned
Maryland inmate's effort to halt his execution, which is scheduled to be
carried out next month, his lawyer said.
U.S. District Judge Benson Legg will conduct the hearing on Vernon L.
Evans Jr.'s request for a temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction blocking his execution, which is set for the week of Feb. 6.
Evans' lawyer, A. Stephen Hut Jr., is challenging the constitutionality of
Maryland's lethal injection process. Hut said the procedures Maryland
uses, including the 3-drug mix injected into the prisoner, constitutes
cruel and unusual punishment.
The drugs used in Maryland for lethal injection are the same as the 3-drug
combination used in Florida, Hut said.
The Supreme Court said today it would hear arguments from the Florida man
who claimed the drug cocktail used in lethal injections can cause
Florida inmate Clarence Hill, who filed the appeal, had been strapped to a
gurney with intravenous lines running into his arms Tuesday night when he
won a temporary Supreme Court stay.
(source: Associated Press)
WE NEED A KINDER, GENTLER DEATH PENALTY
IT'S CLEAR that the justice system as we used to know it no longer exists.
The U. S. Supreme Court, in an order signed by liberal Justice Anthony
Kennedy, has provided a stay of execution to a man who murdered a police
officer nearly a quarter of a century ago.
The condemned was saved by an argument that with execution by lethal
injection there is "a foreseeable risk of the gratuitous and unnecessary
infliction of pain." Good heavens! A decent, caring society that values
life certainly can't risk the infliction of a any pain on the murderer of
a police officer, can it? We will simply have to come up with a method of
execution that provides the prisoner every nicety without the possibility
that he would even have to wince!
Oren M. Spiegler -- Upper Saint Clair, Pa.
(source: Letter to the Editor, Philadelphia Daily News)
Oklahoma State Representative Opio Toure (Oklahoma City) has introduced
House Bill 2738 to create a study to learn if innocent people have been
executed in Oklahoma. In addition, Rep. Toure has introduced House Bill
2739 to abolish the death penalty in Oklahoma.
On the Senate side, Senator Constance Johnson (Oklahoma City) has
introduced Senate Bill 2009, to create a study of the death penalty in
Oklahoma. A moratorium on the use of the death penalty while the study is
on-going is included.
(source: Joann Bell, Executive Director, ACLU of Oklahoma Foundation, from
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