[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----worldwide
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Apr 19 00:21:18 UTC 2007
Jurors reject death penalty for killer of Oregon woman
The family of Jessie Mary Valero says death is the proper punishment for
one of the men responsible for stabbing her to death with a sharpened
But despite those wishes, Washington County jurors sentenced Jose
Guadalupe Cazares Mendez, 29, to life in prison without the chance for
"No matter what sentence he gets, no matter how much time he stays alive
in prison, it's still longer than my mother she's dead," Ray Valero, the
victim's son, said after Tuesday's announcement.
Valero found his 48-year-old mother dead on the living room floor of her
Hillsboro apartment on March 17, 2005.
Cazares, who showed no emotion during the announcement, was found guilty
of murder, robbery and burglary. A co-defendant, Jorge Reyes Sanchez, 23,
was convicted of the same charges in February and also was sentenced to
life in prison without parole.
Jose Luis Lugardo Madero, 27, is scheduled for trial May 22 on murder
charges. He testified at the two trials that he, Reyes and Cazares often
broke into cars to steal property to trade for methamphetamine.
Lugardo said the 3 went to Valero's apartment but that he stayed outside
when Reyes and Cazares broke in. Lugardo testified that he ran when he
heard the sounds of a struggle inside.
Moreover, Lugardo testified that Cazares threatened to kill him if he told
anyone about the Valero murder.
Prosecutors also tied Cazares and Reyes to the crime through the woman's
stolen jewelry. Reyes traded a gold Virgin Mary pendant for meth, his drug
supplier testified. In a photo of Valero holding 1 of her 8 grandchildren,
she is shown wearing the religious pendant.
To find in favor of the death penalty, all 12 jurors would have to answer
that the defendant would probably commit violent crimes in the future.
They did not.
Dan Hesson, Washington County deputy district attorney, tried to convince
jurors in his closing argument that Cazares would be a danger to fellow
prisoners because so much meth is available at the Oregon State
Before jurors began deliberating on the penalty, Cazares said he got down
on his knees and prayed every night to "ask for forgiveness if at any time
in my drug addiction I cause pain or harm to another person."
(source: Associated Press)
Don't kill prison reform
IT SEEMS bizarre that the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
would construct a new execution chamber at San Quentin State Prison
without telling the Legislature about it.
Prison officials tell us that they were only trying to meet the concerns
expressed by U.S. District Judge Jeremy Vogel last December about the
cramped conditions and poor lighting of an antiquated gas chamber built in
1938 and recently used for lethal injection. Until those concerns are met,
no one can be executed in California.
Officials say they are also under pressure from the governor's office to
meet the judge's concerns so implementation of the state's death penalty
law could begin by May 15.
Whatever the justification, on a matter of great sensitivity such as the
death penalty, even appearing to do an end-run around the Legislature is
something that should not have occurred -- and should not occur again.
That said, the execution-chamber flap should not be used by Democratic
legislators as an excuse to scuttle essential reforms that must be
implemented -- not only to relieve overcrowding in California's prisons,
but in the entire corrections system.
These reforms are too important to be jeopardized by a remodeling project,
even one as sensitive as the state's execution chamber.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
Killer granted wish to die----Jurors quickly decide Karis' fate for 1981
James Leslie Karis Jr., convicted of a terrifying murder and rape in
Placerville 25 years ago, asked Sacramento County jurors in his closing
argument Tuesday to send him back to death row.
"I urge you to return with the decision that death is the appropriate
punishment," Karis told them.
Within hours, they gave him what he wanted and sentenced him to death.
It was the first time Karis, who represented himself, directly told the
jurors he should face lethal injection for the murder of 34-year-old Peggy
Pennington in 1981.
The facts of her murder were "terrible enough" to warrant the death
penalty, he said.
Earlier, outside the presence of the jury, Karis had made it clear to
Sacramento Superior Court Judge Trena Burger-Plavan that he wanted to
return to death row as quickly as possible.
Unless Burger-Plavan intervenes, the 55-year-old Karis will return to San
Quentin State Prison, where he spent the past quarter century for the July
8, 1981, murder of Pennington and the rape of her 27-year-old friend.
The El Dorado County welfare workers were taking a walk on their morning
break when Karis abducted them at gunpoint, drove them to a remote area
and raped the younger woman.
Then, as they begged for their lives and prayed aloud, he shot both in the
back and neck and slammed rocks down on them, leaving them for dead.
The younger woman survived and testified against Karis.
He was convicted of murder, rape and kidnapping and sentenced to death in
1982, but a federal judge overturned his death sentence in 1998, saying
his defense lawyers should have presented evidence of his horror-filled
childhood as mitigating evidence during the penalty phase of his trial.
In response, El Dorado County prosecutors opted to pursue a new penalty
On the trial's 1st morning 2 weeks ago, Karis dismissed his lawyers and
chose to represent himself.
He said he didn't want evidence of his violent upbringing dredged up in
front of jurors.
Later, his voice choked with tears, Karis told the judge he didn't want to
"cheapen the emotions" of his victims by offering evidence of childhood
On Tuesday, he told jurors he hadn't presented mitigating evidence for a
"I don't want you to feel sorry for me," Karis said. "If you want to feel
sorry for anyone, feel sorry for (the victims in this case)."
El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Joseph Alexander also argued for
the death penalty, citing Karis' two rape convictions in the 1970s and a
kidnapping and attempted rape after the Placerville crimes.
"He takes women, he terrorizes them and he rapes them," Alexander said.
After their verdict, jurors said they were stunned when Karis chose to
"It was shocking," said jury forewoman Stefanie Martinez, 25. "You didn't
Other jurors said they were afraid to look at Karis as he spoke to them.
"You didn't want to look in his face," Doris VanHook, 65, said.
"You didn't want to show any reaction to him."
In the end, jurors said, it took only a short time to vote unanimously for
the death penalty.
"It was pretty straightforward," said Martinez.
Alexander said he thinks Karis wanted to return to death row, where each
inmate gets a single cell, because he is safer there.
If Karis were sentenced to life in prison without parole and housed with a
general prison population, he would have a cellmate and face risk of
attacks by other inmates, Alexander said.
The prosecutor said Karis probably doesn't think he will ever be executed,
given how long it takes to execute death-row inmates in California.
Karis, however, told the judge he expects to be executed in less than a
Despite Karis' tears, Alexander said, he does not believe Karis was
motivated by pity or remorse.
"He's had the opportunity to apologize for decades, and he hasn't done
it," the prosecutor said.
A hearing for the judge to consider his sentence is scheduled for Tuesday.
(source: Sacramento Bee)
Laying down the law----The US death penalty is illegal. When a British
citizen faces this form of punishment it is our responsibility to protect
The Observer recently published an article highlighting the plight of Neil
Revill, an Englishman accused of double murder in LA and potentially
facing the death penalty. The case against him appears fairly weak - there
were no eyewitnesses, no confession and no murder weapon was found. He has
no previous convictions, and one of the murder victims has been shown to
be a police informant responsible for the arrest of mafia figures in LA.
Yet despite all this, Revill faces the likelihood of conviction and the
The manner in which the death penalty is carried out in America has
changed over the years with more "humane" methods available for taking
human life. There has been much debate as to whether the American
constitution allows for such punishment to be given in the first place.
The eighth amendment sets out that "cruel and unusual punishment" may not
be inflicted. This has been held to protect people from removal of limbs
and beatings with chains, amongst other things. These forms of punishment,
though horrific in the eyes of modern western culture, do not deprive a
person of his life. Regardless of how cruel they may be, a person will
survive such treatment and be able to continue to live.
In 1958 the supreme court ruled in the case of Trop v Dulles that
deprivation of citizenship for an army deserter violated the eighth
amendment, but clarified this by saying that the death penalty did not do
so because it has been used so widely throughout history that it cannot be
classified as being unusual nor cruel. This again shows the ironic notion
put forward by pro-death penalty advocates that a punishment will only be
cruel if a person is alive after such treatment and has to deal with its
The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP)
brought a number of cases against the death penalty in the 1960s. In one
case, Furman v Georgia, Brennan J held that the eighth amendment protects
against degradation of dignity, arbitrariness and unacceptable and
excessive punishments. It seems obvious, to this writer as well as various
supreme court justices, that the death penalty violates all of these
Aside from the legal arguments, there have been a number of studies
showing the discriminatory manner in which the death penalty is applied in
various states. The probability of being sentenced to death increases
where the victim was white, and increases further if the accused is
non-white. This arbitrariness can be used to show that the death penalty
is indeed an unusual punishment. The only way to rebut this argument would
be to make this sentence mandatory for certain offences; a method which
has been tried and which subsequently failed because it did not allow for
Even if all these arguments were not sufficient to overturn the use of the
death penalty by certain American States, an argument using the 14th
amendment, the right to liberty, could be put forward. If a country is
constitutionally bound to protect the liberty of all persons, surely this
would require their lives to be protected from removal by the hands of the
I do not believe that I can overturn decades of death penalty
jurisprudence through one article alone. However, when a British citizen
is being threatened with such punishment and taking Neil Revill
circumstances into account, the flaws of the legality of such a sentence
must be understood.
It is a basic legal concept that if a person commits a crime abroad they
may be prosecuted and extradited to serve their sentence in their home
country, or they may serve out their incarceration in the place where they
were convicted. However, the fact that a country imposes a punishment
which goes against its own constitution, and is therefore illegal, is
something which should be addressed when a foreign national faces such a
sentence. If a British woman were to accuse a man of rape in Pakistan, and
the traditional punishment of rape by elders of the community were to be
imposed against her, there would be public outcry. Just because America is
a western country does not mean we must blindly accept the punishments
that they mete out to British citizens, especially when such sentences are
in excess of their powers under their own legal system.
The organisation Reprieve is fighting to have the death penalty removed as
an option in the case against Neil Revill. Tony Blair has been petitioned
to put diplomatic pressure on the LA prosecutors to comply with this
request. It is our responsibility to ensure that the rule of law is upheld
and that Britons are protected from illegal punishments within
jurisdictions where they are accused of committing a crime.
(source: The Guardian)
Delegates differ on death penalty, language
Delegates to the 2nd constitutional review conference in Lilongwe on
Tuesday differed on why the Special Law Commission retained the death
penalty and recommended that Chichewa should not be the countrys national
Law commissioner Anthony Kamanga said in his presentation that the
commission recommended that the death penalty be retained in the
Commissioner Edrinnie Kayambazinthu also argued in her presentation that
much as the majority of people were in favour of having Chichewa as a
national language, legislating the proposal would give the language an
upper hand than other languages.
On the death penalty, Public Affairs Committee (Pac) secretary-general
Imran Shareef said it would be unfair to protect somebody who has violated
a constitutional provision of the right to life by killing another person.
Shareef said there are some suspects who rape and infect victims with HIV
and Aids, wondering whether such people have regard to the life of the
victims or not.
He also wondered why presidents only pardon prisoners and yet they do not
sign death warrants of convicted murder persons.
Another delegate said the death penalty should not only be confined to
murder suspects but also extend to rapists and dangerous thieves, among
Some delegates, however, said it would be unfair to impose a death penalty
on suspects, arguing the poor would suffer since the rich have the
capacity to hire lawyers.
On language, political analyst Nandini Patel queried why the commission
did not recommend Chichewa to be a national communication medium if the
majority were for it.
But Kayambazinthu said the commissions decision was not based on
statistics alone and that it [the decision] was taken to allow other
languages to grow.
Meanwhile, leader of the United Democratic Front (UDF) in the National
Assembly George Nga Mtafu, before the commencement of the sessions,
wondered how consensus on the discussions would be arrived at, saying it
appeared invited delegates were designed to suit the interests of certain
groups. He also wondered what would befall constitutional provisions that
are in court such as Section 65. But chairperson of the Special Law
Commission Zimani Kadzamira said there would not be any voting like it is
done in Parliament.
In his opening remarks, Chief Justice Leonard Unyolo urged the delegates
to the three-day conference to refrain from proposals that target
individuals, rather consider recommendations made by the Special Law
Commission with sober minds and advance interests of the nation.
"I would also encourage participants to be constructive and focus on
strengthening the weak areas of the Constitution with a view to ensure
that our governance structures are effective so that at the end of the day
we should all be proud of our Constitution as a nation," said Unyolo.
He said the review process started way back in 2004, but said when the Law
Commission approached government to carry out a limited review, Cabinet
suggested the adoption of a methodology of a more inclusive process.
The Chief Justice said a Constitution should not be the subject of
frequent reviews and amendments in the way parliamentary statues are.
Kadzamira said they consulted widely, including use of graduate research
assistants, in targeted districts in the 3 regions of the country.
He also told the delegates that the commission visited selected countries
in the region such as Namibia, South Africa, Zambia and Uganda where they
observed the implementation of comparative constitutional provisions.
"I am highlighting all these to show the nation how widely we have
consulted...and how transparent we have strived to make the constitutional
review process," said Kadzamira.
In his remarks, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Bazuka Mhango
proposed that a new Constitution be drafted instead of reviewing it,
arguing the current one has many shortfalls. According to Mhango, by
drafting a new Constitution, cases of amendments or going to court to get
interpretations on the Constitution would be minimised. He said the
current Constitution was compiled in a hurry, hence there are many
shortcomings and loose ends.
(source: The Nation)
President Kagame and Former EU Envoy Discuss Death Penalty
The former European Union Special Representative for the Great Lakes
Region, Mr Aldo Ajello has persuaded the government to append signature on
the international declaration eliminating the death penalty. Ajjello, who
has been appointed by his home country Italy, to head the International
Anti-death Penalty Lobby Campaign, said he had discussed his proposal with
President Paul Kagame who he says seemed receptive.
"I have discussed the issue of Rwanda signing the proposal for the
abolition of the death penalty with the president (Kagame) and he is
supportive of the process," he told journalists immediately after meeting
the president at Village Urugwiro yesterday.
As a country that has made significant strides in scrapping the capital
penalty, Ajjello explained that the signing of the international
declaration abolishing the death and the corresponding moratorium would
see Rwanda join a long list of countries worldwide that recognise the
value of humanity.
He noted that apart from placing the country at a better global position
in her judicial reform, the approval of the initiative of 'Hands off Cain'
or moratorium on executions would also partly assist Rwanda in dealing
with the legal challenges the country faces such as bringing the
perpetrators of the 1994 genocide to book.
He said if the country agrees to the international anti-death penalty
declaration the government will undoubtedly be able to counter the
challenges of condemned prisoners and cases of extradition still pending.
"I am impressed that Mr Kagame welcomed the idea and has expressed
Rwanda's commitment to sign the UN moratorium on the death penalty,"
Ajello said, describing the determination as an explicit determination and
a great contribution to the great battle of civilisation.
As the former Great Lakes EU chief takes the task of explaining to other
regional countries the Italian position, the Italian Council of Ministers
has given Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D'Alema the task of
presenting the same proposal for the abolition of the death penalty and
the corresponding moratorium at the next EU Council of General Affairs on
This, according to the Italian is a necessary step for the moratorium to
be presented at the UN.
The development comes at a time when Rwanda is debating the abolition of
the death penalty.
The process of voting for the new anti-death penalty law has reached the
parliamentary level after sailing through the cabinet.
The minister for Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama has said that if the
legislation is approved by parliament, those on death-row would instead
serve life in prison. And the change would enable countries which arrest
genocide suspects but which object to capital punishment to extradite them
Meanwhile Ajello who also served as Under-Secretary-General of the United
Nations Adviser to the Secretary-General for special assignments on
preventive and peace-making efforts, yesterday took a swipe at the Ex-FAR
and Interahamwe militia fighting Rwanda as peace saboteurs in the region
that need to be handled using intensive military pressure.
"All regional countries must support the UN mission in the DRC (MONUC) to
mount military offensives in support of a concerted struggle against such
insurgents that are focusing on destabilising the region," he said, adding
that such liaison would give a balanced approach between respective
countries' military pressure and the ingenuity of the international
(source: The New Times)
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