[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OKLA., IND., USA, N.C.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jun 21 04:30:49 UTC 2006
Court says Oklahoma's lethal injection protocol is humane
The way Oklahoma executes killers by lethal injection is constitutional,
humane and effective, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals said Monday
in a precedent-setting, unanimous decision.
"Punishment is cruel and unusual when it involves the unnecessary and
wanton infliction of pain," the appeals court said, adding that Oklahoma's
lethal injection process does not fit that description.
It said Oklahoma and 33 other states use lethal injection, suggesting the
state "comports with contemporary standards of decency. We have in the
past held that lethal injection per se is not unconstitutional. We must
conclude that Oklahoma's execution protocol is constitutional on its
The ruling came on an appeal by James Patrick Malicoat, convicted of
murdering his 13-month-old daughter in 1997 in Chickasha. The toddler
suffered abdominal bleeding, broken ribs, bite marks and extensive
bruising while in Malicoat's care.
The court set Malicoat's execution date for Aug. 22. Attorney General Drew
Edmondson had requested an execution date earlier this month.
"I am pleased with the court's decision," Edmondson said. "It's hard to
imagine that a method of punishment as humane as the one used in Oklahoma
could ever be deemed cruel and unusual. I am pleased that the Court of
Criminal Appeals has taken a giant step toward settling this issue."
Malicoat was represented by a federal public defender in Oklahoma City.
The Associated Press attempted to contact that office for comment late
Monday but got a recorded message.
A public defender had filed a protest to the death row inmate's execution,
arguing the state's death procedure "creates a substantial risk that he
will consciously suffer or experience excruciating pain during the
The court held that Malicoat, 31, failed to back up that claim through
affidavits, including one from a Columbia University assistant professor
Under the state's execution protocol, executions are carried out under
state law using "continuous, intravenous administration of a lethal
quality of an ultra short-acting barbiturate in combination with a
chemical paralytic agent until death is pronounced by a licensed physician
according to accepted standards of medical practice."
The court said since 2003, the Department of Corrections has administered
sodium thiopental, the short-acting barbiturate, vecuronium bromide and
potassium chloride in the execution process.
It said the inmate is rendered unconscious by the barbiturate.
The court found that noting presented on Malicoat's behalf suggested that
the execution method is "anything but humane and effective."
(source: The Daily Ardmoreite)
Death penalty sought in Amber Alert killing
In Terre Haute, prosecutors filed a motion Monday seeking the death
penalty against a Vigo County man accused of abducting and stabbing his 2
young sons, 1 of whom died.
Katron Walker, 33, is charged with murder in the June 13 death of
4-year-old Collin Walker, who was found dead in a lake with a cut throat
and puncture wounds to his chest.
Vigo County prosecutor Bob Wright told Indianapolis television station
WTHR that he filed for the death penalty even though not all the victims'
family members favored the decision.
"I think that it's appropriate. I think that its required," he said.
"Philosophically, there are a lot of people opposed to the death penalty,
and I think that some of the members of that family are. But I think at
the same time they believe that the facts of this case do warrant it."
Vigo Superior Court Judge David Bolk had been scheduled to appoint a
public defender for Walker during a hearing Monday morning. But Indiana
law requires that death penalty defendants be represented by two attorneys
qualified in death penalty cases.
Bolk will appoint those attorneys during a hearing next Monday.
Walker, being held without bail, was charged with murder and attempted
murder after last weeks abduction of his sons, Collin and his 2-year-old
He was led into a Vigo County courtroom Monday wearing handcuffs, leg
shackles and a bulletproof vest.
Police issued an Amber Alert after Walker grabbed his sons from their
grandfather's backyard in Terre Haute the morning of June 13. That night,
police found the van Walker had been driving near a private lake in
Blackhawk in southwest Vigo County.
While dogs were searching the area, Walker ran from a rundown, abandoned
trailer and jumped into the water, dragging his naked children with him,
Officers jumped in after them and grabbed Monte Walker, but they could not
find Collin in the murky, dark lake. A dive team later found his body in
about 12 feet of water.
Monte Walker was hospitalized with cuts on his neck and puncture wounds in
his chest and later released.
(source: Associated Press)
Life on 'X-Row'----Death row inmates tell their stories to national TV
Sun shone through the thin, tall, three-story windows on a brisk May
morning, bathing what most see as a dank, dark, almost morbid hallway,
with bright, warm sun light.
Men stood next to their toilets pulling small, plastic brushes through
their hair, listening to the faint call of unfamiliar voices and the
unmistakable sound of metal slamming against a concrete floor.
Some loudly called out to anyone who would listen. Others were only
noticeable by the glaring eyes reflected in the small, rubber-lined
mirrors jutting out from between steel bars.
They just wanted a piece of the action. Anything to break up the mundane
lives lived each day by men who know their time is coming.
"I don't think anyone deserves to wait to die in such a long, drawn-out
process," said Mark Allen Wisehart, a convicted murderer who has sat on
death row at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City since Sept. 26, 1983.
"It doesn't do anybody any good."
Wisehart is one of 24 men currently on the prison's "X-Row." He's been
appealing his death sentence - he was accused of murdering a 61-year-old
Anderson woman in 1982 - almost since he came to ISP in 1983.
Like many of the condemned men on "X-Row," Wisehart was eager to tell his
story. Many men awaiting certain death - most often for causing death -
want to tell their story or lobby for a sympathetic ear.
When they find that ear - which isn't often - they want to talk about
their life inside. In May, some told their stories to a production company
filming an episode of the MSNBC television show "Lockup."
"Death row is your first and last stop here," Erik Wrinkles, who was
sentenced to death for the 1994 murder of his wife, his wife's brother and
her brother's wife, said when asked what life is like on death row. "So
you have to find guys inside with something in common to keep from going
"I've lost friends in here, though. So I keep to myself anymore. When you
get to know them, most guys on 'X' are pretty decent people."
They sit in isolation, day after day, complaining about cold food and dark
cells. They wish they could spend more than an hour a day - alone, but for
an accompanying corrections officer - outside the walls.
Some will proclaim their innocence to the last day, when an IV is inserted
into their arm and they make one last statement to the people gathered in
the small, cold room that houses the death chamber.
Others won't talk much.
Wisehart knows he likely won't meet with much sympathy, and he understands
that. But nonetheless, he pleads his case.
"We talk cell-to-cell, but there are so few of us left in here, it's hard,
anymore, to even do that," he said. "Some people say I've already lost my
sanity, but I say I'm hanging on by a thread."
Derek Boyan, a 30-year-old sergeant and supervisor of "X-Row," has had to
balance his job with his sanity for years, reconciling the fact that he's
gotten to know convicted killers on a personal basis with the fact that
those people are, in fact, convicted killers.
He restricts his knowledge of the inmates's crimes so he can treat the men
simply as prisoners.
"I'm human. I'll have a certain judgment about them if I know what they
did. I can't do that in this job," he said. "But it's also strange
because, when you think of people on death row, you think of monsters.
"They just don't come off like that. I know they did terrible things. But
it's different to be around them every day because they seem like everyday
Boyan tries not to let himself be "taken in" by the offenders, who unnamed
prison officials claim will say "anything" to find a sympathetic ear.
"You still have in mind that these guys have done terrible things," he
said. "That doesn't go away."
The date of when ISP will be featured on "Lockup" has not been released.
AT A GLANCE
- 38 states, the federal government and the military have a death-penalty
statute on their books.
- Nearly 2/3 of the world's nations have abolished the death penalty in
law or in practice, including more than 30 in the past decade.
(source: News Dispatch)
Who dies and how?----Court issues sensible death penalty rulings
The U.S. Supreme Court issued two decisions last week that will be
characterized by some as a victory for death row inmates. They are not.
One ruling concerns the way lethal injection executions are carried out;
the other deals with the rights of the condemned to new hearings when
credible evidence of possible innocence surfaces. Both are common-sense
victories for fairness and mercy, the hallmarks of a justice system in a
In the first case a unanimous court decided that Florida killer Clarence
Hill had the right to challenge not his death sentence but the way it was
to be carried out. Lethal injection is the manner of execution in Florida
and 36 other states, including California.
In Florida, executioners first administer an anesthetic, then a drug that
causes paralysis and finally a drug that induces a heart attack. Attorneys
for Hill argued that the anesthetic is not powerful enough to stop
excruciating pain, but the paralyzing agent prevents the condemned inmate
from expressing the pain he feels. The plea here is not to stop the
execution but to make it painless. Unless that is done, Hill argued, the
execution violates the U.S. Constitution's Eighth Amendment prohibition
against cruel and unusual punishment. The court made no ruling on the
substance of that argument. It merely granted Hill's procedural right to
have his petition heard.
The 2nd case involved actual questions of guilt or innocence. Paul House,
a Tennessee man was convicted of the 1985 murder of a woman. Although
House was not charged with rape, prosecutors strongly implied at his trial
that sexual assault was a motive for the crime, and they said that House's
semen was found on the victim's body. Newly obtained DNA evidence has
shown that the semen taken at the crime scene was not from House but from
the victim's husband. New witnesses also came forward since House's
original conviction to testify that they had seen the victim and her
husband fighting the night of the murder.
The new evidence was not enough to prove actual innocence but it did, the
court majority concluded, warrant a fresh federal review.
Certainly the court's decisions will have an impact on death row inmates.
One seeks to ensure that executions are carried out in a humane way and
the 2nd to make sure that those executed are clearly guilty. It's
impossible to find fault with either.
(source: Editorial, The Sacramento Bee)
Timothy Allen resentencing begins with jury selection
Jury selection began in the Timothy Lanier Allen resentencing case Monday.
By late in the day, 12 potential jurors had been dismissed and the last of
the first pool of 25 was being questioned.
Allen was convicted of killing a state Highway Patrol trooper in 1985, but
must be resentenced because of a trial error.
At the beginning of the proceedings, two jurors were immediately
dismissed. One, Norma Jean Smith, was dismissed because she is the mother
of Kermit Smith, a Roanoke Rapids man who was executed in 1995 for killing
a woman. The other dismissed was Willie Mack Shearin, who was charged with
a felony over the weekend.
Most of the jurors were dismissed because of their views on the death
penalty, one of the options the jury may choose at the end of the
proceedings, which Superior Court Judge Richard Parker of Manteo said
could take between 5 and 6 weeks.
One was dismissed because she was 6 months pregnant, one because she was
in the process of moving her family to Raleigh and one because she was
taking a microbiology class for her nursing degree which conflicted with
One potential juror who is a death penalty foe said standing before the
judge and reading a death sentence would be wrong. "How can I say I took
his life? I would have done just as much as that person," the he said,
referring to Allen.
Another, recounting his military experience, said, "I've seen and I've
smelled death and I don't want to do it."
The death penalty didn't bother one potential juror who was dismissed. He
had his own approach to the resentencing. "The only problem I have is it's
taken 21 years to get to this step," he said, adding later, "I feel like
it was a major injustice to the man who was killed. I feel like the legal
system drug this out."
Halifax County District Attorney Bill Graham, who used two peremptory
challenges to have two people dismissed, explained to the potential jurors
that Allen's guilt was established when a jury in 1985 agreed he murdered
N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Ray Worley on May 14, 1985, and he was
sentenced to death.
In 1997, however, just as he received his final meal, an appeals court
upheld a federal judge's order stopping the execution. A Supreme Court
ruling in 1990 found that jury instructions telling jurors to unanimously
find mitigating factors were unconstitutional, therefore prompting the
"The function of the jury will be to make a sentencing recommendation to
the judge," Graham said.
The DA told the jury pool, "No one is going to dictate what your opinion
of the death penalty should be. There are no right or wrong answers to
questions we are going to ask you."
Once a jury is selected, it will not hear all the evidence in the case,
Graham said. "You will hear the facts and circumstances leading up to the
death of Trooper Worley."
Graham said he and Ike Avery, a former prosecutor with the Attorney
General's Office, will argue for the death penalty while Henderson Hill of
Charlotte and Gretchen Engel of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation
will argue in favor of a life sentence for Allen.
Allen sat with his team of defense attorneys wearing a gray suit and black
boots, his hair cropped short.
Worley's widow, Jackie, who will testify in the hearing, sat with her
daughter. Two state Highway Patrol troopers sat behind her and several
came in for a few minutes to show their support. Because she is one of
several witnesses in the case, Mrs. Worley declined to immediately comment
on the proceedings.
The image of Allen being led into court in leg shackles while Mrs. Worley
is escorted by troopers led Hill to ask the judge for news cameras to only
capture Allen while seated, the same view the jurors will see of him in
the coming weeks.
After the lunch break, Hill argued out of the jury's presence, "We come
back and we see the TV camera making arrangements for a perp (perpetrator)
walk. What we're talking about is choreography and theatrics by the TV
cameras to prejudice the jurors. It's clear the effect intended is to
provide local coverage."
He said viewers would see Allen "artificially shuffling" into the
courtroom while Mrs. Worley would be seen escorted by troopers.
"You took care of that," WRAL channel 5 reporter Fred Taylor told Hill.
"You blocked our only shot." "My effort to block him is not newsworthy,"
(source: Roanoke Daily Herald)
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