[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, USA, N.Y., COLO., ILL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Tue Apr 24 15:11:22 UTC 2007
Ohio prepares to execute wife-killer
A man who gunned down his ex-wife 13 years ago was at Ohio's death house
Tuesday, a day after a federal appeals panel denied his late-hour request
for an emergency delay of his scheduled execution.
The execution of James Filiaggi, 41, was set for Tuesday morning at the
Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, barring a successful
appeal by his attorneys to the full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in
Cincinnati or to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Preparations were proceeding as normal at the prison Tuesday morning a few
hours before the time set for the execution, said Andrea Dean, spokeswoman
for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Filiaggi, a death row volunteer who had stopped appealing his sentence in
2006, reconsidered last week, asking the Ohio Supreme Court, a federal
judge and a 3-judge 6th Circuit panel to grant an emergency delay. All
denied the request Monday.
Filiaggi sought to join several other Ohio inmates in a lawsuit
challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection. The inmates contend
that lethal injection constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, and
Filiaggi argued in court papers that the method will, in effect, cause him
to be tortured.
The Ohio Supreme Court turned down Filiaggi in a 5-2 ruling. U.S. District
Judge Gregory Frost ruled Monday that Filiaggi failed to follow a state
law requiring that a grievance over lethal injection be filed with the
chief inspector who oversees the state prisons system, and a 3-judge panel
of the 6th Circuit agreed later in the day that there were no grounds to
stop Filiaggis execution.
Legal challenges to the use of lethal injection have been filed in several
states with mixed results. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court delayed the
execution of another inmate in Ohio after he joined the same lawsuit.
Other executions in Ohio have been delayed in the past year because of the
suit, although a former cult leader was put to death despite his appeal.
Filiaggi's execution would be the 1st under Democratic Gov. Ted
Strickland, who took office in January. Strickland denied clemency last
week, even though Filiaggi didnt ask for his life to be spared. The
governor on Monday also refused to delay the execution to allow Filiaggi
to pursue joining the lethal injection lawsuit.
Filiaggis attorneys could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Messages seeking comment were left at the Toledo offices of attorneys
Jeffrey Gamso and Spiros Cocoves and at the Cleveland office of Gamso,
legal director of the ACLU of Ohio.
Filiaggi was in a calm mood Tuesday morning, laughing as he visited with
family members after a sleepless night spent mostly talking on the phone
with his sisters, mother and some friends, Dean said.
Filiaggi had a strained relationship with Lisa Huff Filiaggi, whom he
married December 1991. She filed for divorce 9 months later and received
custody of their 2 young girls when the divorce was granted in 1993.
James Filiaggi, who has a history of domestic violence, chased his ex-wife
through her Lorain neighborhood on Jan. 24, 1994, then followed her into a
neighbors house and shot her in the head in a bedroom.
Attorneys for Filiaggi entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity,
arguing that a brain disorder made him unable to control anger-filled
outbursts. Prosecutors said he knew right from wrong. A 3-judge panel in
Lorain County convicted him of aggravated murder and other charges in
The couple's daughters, now 16 and 14, are being raised by Filiaggis
younger brother, Anthony Filiaggi, in Elyria.
Anthony Filiaggi said he had no plans to attend his brother's execution.
In a note to the Ohio Parole Board, 14-year-old Jasmin Filiaggi wrote that
she had no sympathy for her father.
The state has put 24 inmates to death since resuming executions in 1999,
all under former Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican.
(source: Associated Press)
Study: Lethal Injection Method Flawed
The drugs used to execute prisoners in the United States sometimes fail to
work as planned, causing slow and painful deaths that probably violate
constitutional bans on cruel and unusual punishment, a new medical review
of dozens of executions concludes.
Even when administered properly, the 3-drug lethal injection method
appears to have caused some inmates to suffocate while they were conscious
and unable to move, instead of having their hearts stopped while they were
sedated, scientists said in a report published Monday by the online
journal PLoS Medicine.
No scientific groups have ever validated that lethal injection is humane,
the authors write. Medical ethics bar doctors and other health
professionals from taking part in executions.
The study concluded that the typical "one-size-fits-all" doses of
anesthetic do not take into account an inmate's weight and other key
factors. Some inmates got too little, and in some cases, the anesthetic
wore off before the execution was complete, the authors found.
"You wouldn't be able to use this protocol to kill a pig at the University
of Miami" without more proof that it worked as intended, said Teresa
Zimmers, a biologist there who led the study.
The journal's editors call for abolishing the death penalty, writing:
"There is no humane way of forcibly killing someone."
Lethal injection has been adopted by 37 states as a cheaper and more
humane alternative to electrocution, gas chambers and other execution
But 11 states have suspended its use after opponents alleged it is
ineffective and cruel. The issue came to a head last year in California,
when a federal judge ordered that doctors assist in killing Michael
Morales, convicted of raping and murdering a teenage girl. Doctors
refused, and legal arguments continue in the case.
In 2005 alone, at least 2,148 people were killed by lethal injection in 22
countries, especially China, where fleets of mobile execution vans are
used, the editors write, citing Amnesty International figures. Of the 53
executions in the United States in 2006, all but one were by lethal
The new review was written by many of the same authors who touched off
controversy when they published a 2005 report suggesting that many inmates
were conscious and possibly suffering when the last of the drugs was
That report was criticized for its methodology, which relied on blood
samples taken from prisoners hours after executions.
The new paper looked at the executions of 40 prisoners in North Carolina
since 1984 and about a dozen in California, plus incomplete information
from Florida and Virginia. The authors analyzed details such as the dose
the inmates received, their weight and the time they needed to die.
Most states use three drugs - thiopental, an anesthetic; pancuronium
bromide, a nerve blocker and muscle paralyzer; and potassium chloride, a
drug to stop the heart. Each is supposed to be capable of killing all by
itself, but if not, the anesthetic is supposed to render the inmate
unconscious while the other drugs do the job.
In 33 North Carolina executions, the average death time was 10 to 14
minutes, depending on the combination of drugs used, the authors report.
Calculating each inmate's actual dose, based on his or her weight, they
concluded that some did not receive enough.
"The person would feel either asphyxiation or the burning sensation
associated with the potassium," said Dr. Leonidas Koniaris, a surgeon and
co-author at the University of Miami. "The potassium would cause extreme
discomfort, something like being put on fire."
Even the final drug did not always prove fatal as intended. At least one
California inmate required a 2nd dose, and the California warden has said
additional doses were used in 2 other executions, the study reports.
Death penalty proponents complained the report's conclusions were based on
scant scientific evidence.
"It's more like political science than medical science," said Mike
Rushford, president of Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento.
Steve Stewart, prosecuting attorney in Clark County, Indiana, where an
execution is scheduled for May 4, said the simple solution seemed to be to
give a higher dose of the anesthetic, which probably would not satisfy
opponents who see all methods as barbaric.
"It doesn't matter a whole lot to me that someone may have felt some pain
before they were administered poison as a method of execution," he said.
Dr. Mark Heath, an anesthesiologist at Columbia University Medical Center
who has studied lethal injection cases, took issue with some of the
paper's conclusions, but said it generally showed that concerns about
lethal injection in its current form "are well-justified."
Editors said they sent the manuscript to three independent medical experts
for review - an anesthesiologist, a forensic pathologist and someone in
charge of a critical care unit, plus a lawyer.
"We were satisfied" with the science, said Dr. Virginia Barbour, a British
physician who is managing editor of the journal, published by the
nonprofit group Public Library of Science. "The difficulty of a paper like
this is that there is very poor evidence for all the kinds of protocols
used" in lethal injections, but the authors did a good job analyzing what
there is, she said.
On the Net: Study: http://tinyurl.com/2buobu
Medical journal: http://www.plosmedicine.org
(source: Associated Press)
EDITORIAL----Lethal Injection Is Not Humane
Citation: The PLoS Medicine Editors (2007) Lethal Injection Is Not Humane.
PLoS Med 4(4): e171 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040171
[Copyright: 2007 The PLoS Medicine Editors. This is an open-access
article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in
any medium, provided the original author and source are credited]
e-mail: medicine_editors at plos.org
This month's issue of PLoS Medicine contains a research article on 3
protocols used in lethal injection, the current method of execution for
most US states. Despite the British Royal Commission on Capital Punishment
advising against lethal injection half a century ago , the United
Nations General Assembly affirming the desirability of abolishing the
death penalty in 1971, and the European Union explicitly banning the death
penalty in all circumstances , executionpredominantly by lethal
injectionis still practiced in many countries. During 2005 at least 2,148
people were executed in 22 countries in cases recorded by Amnesty
International; the actual numbers were certainly higher. The majority of
these executions took place in China, where fleets of mobile execution
vans have been deployed to facilitate prompt, low-profile executions by
lethal injection. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US together with China
accounted for 94% of executions in 2005 .
Following its introduction to the US in 1982, lethal injection became the
primary method of execution there, largely replacing execution by hanging,
firing squad, gas chamber, and electrocution. Each of these older methods
has come to be seen as inhumane or excessively violent by most states, but
each remains an option in a handful of others. Of the 53 executions in the
US in 2006, all but one (an electrocution) were carried out using lethal
In recent months, concerns over botched lethal injections have put the
method on hold in a dozen or so of the 36 US states that have the death
penalty. Following a particularly agonizing execution in December 2006,
the US District Court ruled that California's lethal injection protocol
was unconstitutional. The governors of Florida and Tennessee suspended
executions pending review of their states' lethal injection protocols. A
court ruling in December 2006 suspended Maryland's executions, and New
Jersey is considering an outright ban on its death penalty following a
2004 court order requiring the state to justify its lethal injection
process. Executions are on hold in several other states pending legal
In this context, the editors of PLoS Medicine believe it is timely to
publish a research article reporting shortcomings of lethal injection
protocols. Strictly speaking, this article has little to do with medicine.
Execution by lethal injection, even if it uses tools of intensive care
such as intravenous tubing and beeping heart monitors, has the same
relationship to medicine that an executioner's axe has to surgery.
Nonetheless, there is a need for greater openness in public discussion and
consideration of the death penalty, including its unpalatable details.
Challenges to the constitutionality of lethal injection have thus far been
based largely on accounts of suffering resulting from unskilled
administration. The American Medical Association, the American Nurses
Association, the Society of Correctional Physicians, and a number of state
medical boards have banned as unethical any causative role for medical
professionals in executions . Accordingly, in lethal injection
procedures intravenous access has often been attempted (with frequent
failures) by untrained staff, the execution mixture has precipitated and
blocked IV tubes, and lethal doses have been unreliably calculated .
Anesthesia has failed, chemical burns have occurred, and suffering has
proceeded for 30 minutes or longer. Although this suffering might be seen
as a consequence of professional refusal to participate in executions,
this refusal also appears to be one of the primary forces motivating
reexamination of lethal injection by the courts.
The current article by Koniaris and colleagues gives further cause for
concern by questioning whether, even if perfectly administered, the
protocols would achieve their stated aim of causing death without
inflicting inhumane punishment. The authors analyzed several cases from
three states: California, North Carolina, and Virginia. (Texas, the state
with the largest number of lethal injections, does not release data from
executions.) These lethal injection protocols use the barbiturate
thiopental (intended to sedate and to suppress breathing), the
neuromuscular blocker pancuronium (which paralyzes, causing respiratory
arrest but also preventing agonal movements that might indicate
suffering), and the electrolyte potassium (intended to cause cardiac
arrest). Such protocols are intended to provide redundancy, such that each
drug is given at a dose that would by itself cause death. However, in
analyzing data from actual executions, Koniaris and colleagues report that
thiopental and potassium do not consistently result in death. In fact,
individuals undergoing execution have continued to breathe after the
injection of thiopental, and their hearts have continued to beat following
injection of potassium; in these cases, the authors conclude, it is quite
likely that those being executed have experienced asphyxiation while
conscious and unable to move, and possibly an intense burning pain
throughout the body from the potassium injection.
Each of the editors of PLoS Medicine opposes the death penalty. It is not
our intention to encourage further research to "improve" lethal injection
protocols. As editors of a medical journal, we must ensure that research
is ethical, and there is no ethical way to establish the humaneness of
procedures for killing people who do not wish to die. Human research to
further the ends of governments at the expense of individual lives is an
obvious violation of the Declaration of Helsinki, which was conceived
largely in response to the atrocities of Nazi "medicine" in order to
articulate an international standard for ethical human experimentation
. Whatever local law might say in a given place and time, no ethical
researcher would propose a study to establish such procedures, no ethical
reviewers would approve it, and no ethical journal would publish it. The
acceptability of lethal injection under the US Constitution's Eighth
Amendment ban on inhumane punishment has never been established; the data
presented by Koniaris and colleagues adds to the evidence that lethal
injection is simply the latest in a long line of execution methods that
have been found to be inhumane. It is time for the US to join the majority
of countries worldwide in recognizing that there is no humane way of
forcibly killing someone.
Apart from the issue of whether humane execution can exist, we must also
consider the accuracy of convictions resulting in death sentences.
Execution of wrongfully sentenced individuals is obviously unacceptable,
yet between 1973 and 2004 in the US, 118 prisoners who had been sentenced
to death were later released on grounds of innocence . Of 197
convictions in the US that were subsequently exonerated by DNA evidence,
14 were at one time sentenced to death or served time on death row .
Racial bias in sentencing likely accounts for much of this error; more
than half of the exonerees were African Americans, and the rate of death
sentences in the US among those convicted of killing a white victim is
considerably higher than for murderers of blacks. Given this potential for
fatal error, how can any objective person support the death penalty, which
allows for no correction?
We support the recent decision of Craig Watkins, the new district attorney
of Dallas, Texas, to examine hundreds of cases over the past 30 years to
see whether DNA tests might reveal wrongful convictions . Such errors
are inevitable when an implicit goal of sentencing, and particularly of
imposing the death penalty, is not rational but emotional: the desire for
revenge. As one law professor stated in a recent New York Times Magazine
article on lethal injection, Retribution, the conscious affliction of pain
and suffering because and only because some people deserve it, is the
essence of punishment . But if the personal satisfaction of seeing
criminals "get what they deserve" really reflects the intentions of
Americans, why has the US seen a transition away from firing squads,
hanging, or even drawing and quartering? Why was capital punishment
illegal for a decade until it was reinstated by a Supreme Court ruling in
1976? Why have some US states rejected the death penalty completely, and
others suspended its use? Why has the US followed the course associated
with totalitarian states and rejected by other democracies in this matter?
Clearly, the death penalty is a matter of profound ambivalence in American
society. Courts and state governments are saying that if capital
punishment exists, it must not be cruel or visibly violent. Physicians and
nurses are saying that their involvement in executions is below any
acceptable conception of professional ethics. How to reconcile the needs
of a society given to vengeance but outwardly abhorrent of cruelty or
violence, trusting of medical science's trappings but indifferent to their
use in killing, expecting the highest ethics of its physicians but willing
to medicalize the execution chamber? The new data in PLoS Medicine will
further strengthen the constitutional case for the abandonment of
execution in the US. As a moral society, the US should take a leading role
in the abandonment of executions worldwide.
Emanuel LL, Bienen LB (2001) Physician participation in executions
(editorial). Ann Intern Med 135: 922924. Find this article onlineEuropean
Union (2007) The EU's human rights & democratisation policy. Available:
Accessed 19 March 2007.
Amnesty International (2007) Facts and statistics on the death penalty.
Accessed 19 March 2007. Death Penalty Information Center (2007)
Seaerchable database of executions. Available:
http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executions.php. Accessed 19 March 2007.
Gawande A (2006) When law and ethics collideWhy physicians participate in
executions. New Engl J Med 354: 12211229. Find this article onlineKoniaris
LG, Zimmers TA, Lubarsky DA, Sheldon JP (2005) Inadequate anaesthesia in
lethal injection for execution. Lancet 365: 14121414. Find this article
onlineWorld Medical Association (2007) Policy statement. Available:
http://www.wma.net/e/policy/b3.htm. Accessed 19 March 2007.
Amnesty International (2005) The death penalty worldwide: Developments in
2004. Available: http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGACT500012005.
Accessed 19 March 2007. The Innocence Project (2007) Facts on
post-conviction DNA exonerations. Available:
http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/351.php. Accessed 19 March 2007.
McGonigle S (2007 February 16) Innocence Project to review Dallas County
convictions. The Dallas Morning News. Available:
Accessed 19 March 2006.
Weil E (2007 February 11) The needle and the damage done. New York Times
Accessed 19 March 2007.
(source: PLoS Medicine Editors)
Drugs Used in Executions May Cause Paralysis, Pain for Conscious Inmates
The cocktail of drugs used for lethal injections is unreliable and could
render inmates paralyzed but not unconscious, unable to cry out as they
experience excruciating pain and eventually suffocate, according to a new
The analysis, released yesterday and based on published data about the
three drugs used and public records of executions in North Carolina and
California, concluded that the protocol does not dependably induce a
quick, painless death.
"This raises the possibility people are being tortured and you can't see
it because they are paralyzed," said University of Miami surgery professor
Leonidas G. Koniaris, who led the analysis. "I'm not sure a civilized
society should be doing this."
The analysis comes at a time of turmoil over the use of lethal injection.
At least 11 states have suspended executions after botched injections
raised questions about the procedure and its administration.
The analysis, which was conducted to determine whether the process works
when done correctly, concludes that the process is fundamentally flawed.
"I find it very disturbing," said Teresa A. Zimmers, a University of Miami
research assistant professor who helped write the report.
"There is very little science behind this protocol, and the picture of
lethal injection being a humane way to execute someone is completely
wrong," she said.
The findings were seized upon by opponents of the death penalty.
"It's horrifying to read this," said Deborah W. Denno of Fordham
University's law school. "What states are supposed to do is execute
inmates in a humane way. There is clearly pain and suffering occurring."
But death-penalty supporters dismissed the findings as based on faulty
"This doesn't pass the smell test," said Michael Rushford of the Criminal
Justice Legal Foundation, a victims' rights group. "These people wouldn't
be okay with Ethel Merman singing people to death."
Although the exact protocol for lethal injections varies from state to
state, all use the same 3 drugs in large enough doses that any one alone
should work. The 1st is sodium thiopental, a barbiturate intended to
render the inmate unconscious at the start of the procedure and to prevent
pain and suffering. The 2nd drug, pancuronium bromide, paralyzes the
muscles. The 3rd drug, potassium chloride, is used to stop the heart.
The researchers examined what is known about the drugs' ability to achieve
those results, based on clinical and laboratory studies in humans and
animals. They then examined how the drugs are used based on records from
33 executions in North Carolina and 8 in California between 1984 and 2006,
such as medical examiners' reports on the inmates' weights. The
researchers said their work was hindered by the secrecy surrounding
executions in most states.
Nevertheless, in a paper being published online in the April issue of the
journal PLoS Medicine, the researchers concluded that the dosages of
thiopental and potassium chloride were insufficient. In addition, the
dosages of thiopental may not be enough to render inmates unconscious at
the outset or to keep them from waking during the process.
As a result, they wrote, some inmates may be fully aware as the paralyzing
agent cuts off their ability to breathe. Moreover, pancuronium is known to
cause severe pain, but the inmate would be unable to express that.
"It causes all the pain fibers in the body to fire," Koniaris said, noting
that the protocol has been banned for use in animals. "It would be akin to
feeling like your whole body is on fire. It's extremely painful."
Koniaris noted that even though the inmates are paralyzed, they are still
able to cry, and tears have been reported in some executions.
"They are awake, but they would not be able to move their mouth or give
any outward signs of being awake except tears," he said.
Jay Chapman, who developed the lethal-injection protocol when he was the
state medical examiner in Oklahoma in 1977, disputed the findings, saying
the method works if done properly.
"If the protocol is set up and carried out properly, death will result,"
he said. "It has to be done competently."
In an editorial accompanying the paper, the editors of the journal said
they were not publishing the study in the hopes of prompting improvements
to the protocol. Instead, they are hoping it will fuel a campaign to
"As a moral society, the U.S. should take a leading role in the
abandonment of executions worldwide," they wrote.
(source: Washington Post)
Drugs for Lethal Injection Aren't Reliable, Study Finds
Some prisoners executed by lethal injection may die of suffocation while
they are still conscious and in pain, University of Miami researchers said
Monday in a study that concluded that the drugs do not work as intended.
The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS
Medicine, raised new questions about whether the lethal mixture violates
the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Lethal injection is the primary method of execution for 37 states and the
federal government, though more than a dozen states have halted or
suspended the procedure because of legal or ethical questions.
The drugs used are the anesthetic thiopental; pancuronium bromide, which
paralyzes the muscles and lungs; and the electrolyte potassium chloride,
which stops the heart.
First adopted by Oklahoma lawmakers looking for a humane alternative to
the electric chair, the combination is supposed to produce unconsciousness
and then death by respiratory and cardiac arrest.
The researchers studied drug dosages and time elapsed until death in 42
lethal injections in North Carolina and 8 in California. They concluded
that thiopental might have been insufficient to keep the prisoners
unconscious in some cases, based on concentrations in their blood after
death. They also said the potassium chloride injection, which causes an
intense burning sensation, did not reliably hasten death because prisoners
given it died no faster than those who got only the other 2 drugs.
The researchers concluded that pancuronium was the only reliably fatal
part of the cocktail, meaning the executed may actually have died of
suffocation as it paralyzed their lungs.
In cases where the injection was botched and the drugs were delivered into
the muscle or under the skin rather than into the veins, prisoners would
by fully aware as the paralysis took hold and the potassium chloride was
administered, said Teresa Zimmers, who led the study.
"It would sort of be the equivalent of slowly suffocating while being
burned alive," Ms. Zimmers said.
New Push for Death Penalty
Republicans in Albany want to bring back the death penalty for anyone
killing a police or correctional officer. They reintroduced their bill
Monday-- inspired by recent cases of police killed in the line of duty,
like Trooper Joseph Longobardo, who was shot during the manhunt for Ralph
"Bucky" Phillips last year.
"They're out there protecting us. And with no death penalty in New York
State there's nothing to prevent people from senselessly killing our
police officers," says Assemblywoman Theresa Sayward, R-Willsboro.
"Certainly with the border crossings, and the Northway with the direct
line between New York City and the Canadian border, they're exposed all
the time. And, the death penalty as a deterrent for crimes has got to be
on the books," says Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-Peru.
Similar bills failed in the Assembly in 2005 and 2006.
(source: WCAX News)
Assembly GOP seeks death penalty for cop killers
Assembly Republicans were joined Monday by Senator Joseph Griffo, law
enforcement officials and families of police officers slain in the line of
duty to call for the return of capital punishment for those convicted of
murdering police officers or correctional officials.
Recent killings of police officers across the state underscore the need
for the death penalty for cop killers as both a deterrent and punishment.
Utica Police Officer Thomas Lindsey was shot and killed during a traffic
stop on April 12, 2007. In March 2006, New York State Trooper Andrew Sperr
was killed in the town of Big Flats, near Elmira, when he stopped a
vehicle containing bank robbery suspects. Also in 2006, fugitive Ralph
"Bucky" Phillips murdered New York State Trooper Joseph Longobardo and
injured State Troopers Donald Baker Jr. and Sean Brown. Between 2002 and
2006, 13 police officers in New York State were killed in the line of
In 1995, the Legislature and former Governor Pataki reinstated the death
penalty in New York. Under this statute, cop killers could receive the
death penalty. The state's highest court ruled parts of this statute
unconstitutional in 2004, effectively killing the death penalty here.
Assembly Republican legislation would remedy the Court of Appeals'
decision by mandating that those convicted of first degree murder be
unanimously sentenced by a jury to death, life imprisonment without parole
or a minimum sentence of between 20 and 25 years. Similar legislation was
defeated by Assembly Democrats in 2005 and 2006. Assembly Republicans want
all members to have an opportunity to vote on these important public
(source: Empire State News)
High court drops killer's death penalty
A death sentence against an inmate who killed a prison employee is not
valid because a jury didn't decide his fate, the Colorado Supreme Court
The state's high court did, however, uphold the 1st-degree murder
conviction of Edward Montour Jr. for the October 2002 bludgeoning death of
Eric Autobee, a 23-year-old kitchen supervisor at the Limon Correctional
Montour pleaded guilty to the death of Autobee, and in doing so
"automatically waived his right to have a jury determine his sentence"
under the state's death penalty statute, the Supreme Court found in a
ruling posted today.
"We hold that the statute unconstitutionally links the waiver of a
defendant's jury-sentencing right to his guilty plea," the opinion states.
"Colorado law was found by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional," said
attorney David Lane, who was a member of a team that represented Montour.
"If you enter a plea of guilty, as Montour did, you wave the right to have
a jury find your fate, and that is unconstitutional," Lane said.
The court's decision reverses the death sentence and remands the case back
to "the trial court for a jury determination of whether to impose the
sentence of life imprisonment or death."
The ruling leaves convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap as the only person
currently on death row in Colorado, Lane said. Dunlap murdered 4 people at
a pizza parlor in Aurora in 1993.
Montour was serving a life sentence in Limon for the 1997 death of his
infant daughter in Colorado Springs. He had told authorities he
accidentally dropped the girl, but the El Paso County coroner ruled the
death a homicide. Montour eventually was convicted.
Montour told investigators he killed Autobee, by striking him in the back
of the head with a soup ladle, to raise his status in the prison,
according to a taped confession.
(source: Denver Post)
Former cable guy might face death penalty
A former cable installer accused of murdering 2 South Side women after
making service calls to their homes might face the death penalty if
convicted, Cook County prosecutors said in court Monday.
"We did say in court today in all likelihood we will probably seek the
death penalty, but (State's Attorney Dick) Devine needs to make that
decision, and he hasn't made that decision yet," spokeswoman Tandra
Anthony Triplett is accused of raping and killing Urszla Sakowska, 23, of
Chicago's Clearing community on Dec. 8 and murdering Janice Ordidge, 39,
of the Hyde Park community on Oct. 21.
Both women were found strangled in their bathtubs, and Triplett, who
worked for a contractor hired by Comcast Cable, visited their homes for
cable service, authorities said.
Triplett, 26, is being held at Cook County Jail without bail.
(source: Chicago Sun-Times)
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