[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----USA, MD., PENN.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Mar 1 09:32:01 CST 2006
Law Students Take Nationwide Action Against The Death Penalty
Law students across the country are speaking out in opposition to the
death penalty on March 1, 2006 as part of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG)
Law Student Day Against the Death Penalty.
At least 32 law schools are participating in this national day of action
and education. Participating students are organizing panel discussions,
petition drives, protests, visits to death row and execution chambers,
film series, and other activities to raise awareness and call for
The national day of action takes place amidst extraordinary death
penalty-related news around the country:
Last week, officials at San Quentin State Prison couldn't meet the
demands of a federal judge who ordered licensed medical personnel to take
part in the lethal injection of Michael Morales. This would violate
medical ethics. The effect amounts to a moratorium in California, which
has 650 death row inmates.
Nationally, 5 inmates have had their executions put on hold since late
January because of doubts surrounding lethal injection.
On February 24, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously overturned the
conviction of death row inmate John Robert Ballard. Once his acquittal is
confirmed, Ballard will be the 123rd person exonerated and freed from
death row in the U.S. since 1973.
NLG Executive Director Heidi Boghosian states, "Supreme Court Justice
Harry Blackmun got it right in his 1994 Callins v. Collins dissent, when
he avowed to no longer tinker with the machinery of death. The members of
the current Supreme Court should follow in Blackmuns footsteps and at long
last declare the death penalty unconstitutional."
Founded in 1937 as the 1st racially integrated national bar association,
the National Lawyers Guild is the oldest and largest public interest/human
rights bar organization in the United States. It has chapters in nearly
every state and at 97 law schools.
(source: Press Release--US National Lawyers Guild)
Data from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund's Death Row USA for the final
quarter of 2005 indicates that the number of people sentenced to death
last year was 65% fewer than in 1998. The Death Penalty Information
Center's (DPIC)analysis of death row population figures from the report
showed that 106 people received a death sentence in 2005, down from 125 in
2004 and dramatically lower than the 300 per year recorded in the late
1990s. In its 2005 Year End Report, DPIC accurately projected that death
sentences in 2005 would be at their lowest level since capital punishment
was reinstated, but the Center's projection for the year was only based on
the three quarters of data available from the Legal Defense Fund.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics typically releases its official count of
death sentences in the U.S. in 2005 when it issues its "Capital Punishment
2005" report at the end of this year. Based on past experience, there is
unlikely to be a large discrepancy between BJS's number and DPIC's.
Md. Man Gets Federal Death Sentence in Slaying
A Hillcrest Heights man was sentenced to death by a federal judge in
Greenbelt yesterday for abducting and murdering the son of a D.C. police
lieutenant more than 4 years ago.
Kenneth J. Lighty, 23, will be the 2nd man on death row in the federal
system in Maryland.
During the brief hearing in U.S. District Court, Lighty maintained his
innocence before Judge Peter J. Messitte announced the sentence.
Lighty declined to apologize for the murder of Eric L. Hayes II, 19,
saying: "I just want to make it clear I'm innocent of these charges."
Lighty, who did not testify during his trial, said he will appeal his
Messitte noted as he announced the sentence that Lighty had experienced a
difficult childhood with little or no parental supervision or guidance.
The judge previously sentenced the only other federal death row prisoner
in Maryland, a Laurel man convicted of ordering the murders of 3 young
District women in Beltsville in 1996.
Lighty's sentence was a formality because the federal jury that convicted
him voted in November that he should be put to death. Under federal rules,
judges are bound by a jury's finding in death penalty cases.
Messitte also ordered Lighty to pay $7,578 in restitution to Hayes's
family, at a rate of $25 a month.
"The jury's recommendation that Lighty pay the ultimate penalty for his
vicious murder of Eric Hayes reflects the judgment of a community that has
simply had enough of senseless gun violence," said Maryland U.S. Attorney
Rod J. Rosenstein.
Relatives of Hayes and of Lighty declined to comment.
Lighty is the 3rd man sentenced in the Jan. 3, 2002, kidnapping and murder
of Hayes. James E. Flood III, 28, of the District was convicted of
kidnapping and murder, and Lorenzo A. Wilson, 22, of Hillcrest Heights was
convicted of conspiracy to kidnap.
Flood and Wilson were sentenced in January to life in prison. There is no
parole in the federal system.
Federal prosecutors told jurors that Hayes was a PCP dealer. Neither
Hayes's illegal activity nor the fact that he was the son of a police
officer was related to his abduction and murder, the prosecutors said.
According to evidence presented by prosecutors, Hayes and a friend were
hanging out in the 3200 block of Eighth Street SE, near Alabama Avenue,
when they saw a dark blue Lincoln Continental stop in a parking lot.
During Wilson's trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah A. Johnston said
that Hayes sold PCP-laced cigarettes for $20 each, and he told his friend
he could use the $40 or $50 just before he went to the parking lot to meet
the people in the car. Hayes had some PCP hidden in a car in the parking
lot, Johnston said.
The friend then saw Hayes being held down over a car, and the friend ran
away from a gun-wielding assailant, Johnston said.
Hayes was driven into Prince George's County and about 45 minutes later
was shot 3 times in Oxon Hill, prosecutors said.
Someone had stolen a car belonging to a friend of the killers, who
abducted Hayes thinking he was the thief, prosecutors said. In reality,
Hayes had nothing to do with the theft of the car, they said.
(source: Baltimore Sun)
Judge bars execution, cites mental illness
In Wilkes-Barre, a Pennsylvania judge has barred the execution of
convicted killer George Banks, saying the man is too mentally ill to
understand, a report said.
The 63-year-old former prison guard had been sentenced to death for a 1982
shooting spree that killed 13 people, 5 of them his own children.
'Banks cannot make rational choices because of his major mental illness,
cannot rationally comprehend his death sentences, has a hopeless prognosis
and will not improve to any acceptable degree,' Judge Michael Conahan
wrote in Monday`s ruling.
Prosecutors, however, said they would appeal the Luzerne County, Pa.,
ruling to the state Supreme Court, the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times-Leader
'It simply puts his execution on hold, District Attorney Dave Lupas said.
'It does absolutely nothing to change the conviction or death sentence.'
(source: United Press International)
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