[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----TEXAS, ALA., CALIF., MISS.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Apr 26 04:57:40 UTC 2007
Convicted killer set to die Thursday in Texas
Ryan Dickson, 30, will be the latest prisoner to be executed this week in
Texas, the busiest capital punishment state in the United States.
Dickson was found guilty of shooting a couple dead while trying to steal
beer from a grocery store.
He is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening. He would be the 13th
Texas inmate put to death this year.
He turned 18 just 16 days before the shootings. Under current law, if he
had been under 18, he would have been ineligible for the death penalty.
"To me, the legal system in general is a joke, a game, a bad game,"
Dickson told The Associated Press.
Dickson's lawyer, Ronald Spriggs, said he planned "a last-minute effort"
in the courts "to prevent him from getting killed," arguing Dickson could
be mentally retarded and ineligible for execution and that evidence of
childhood abuse should mitigate his punishment.
At least 9 other Texas inmates have execution dates in the coming months.
(source: Associated Press)
House panel begins debate on bill that ends death penalty
A House committee was set to debate late Tuesday a bill that aims to end
the death penalty in Texas.
The House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence was scheduled to consider a
proposed constitutional amendment by state Rep. Elliott Naishtat,
D-Austin, that would allow the governor to issue a moratorium on the death
State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, has filed a companion bill in the
Senate. He has sponsored similar measures going back to 2001, but they
died in committee or on the Senate floor.
Governors in Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee have all imposed
moratoriums on the death penalty until issues over how the executions are
conducted have been resolved, Shapleigh and Naishtat said in a joint news
release. The governor of Texas does not have the power to issue a
moratorium on the death penalty, the release said.
El Paso County District Attorney Jaime Esparza said he did not think a
moratorium was necessary because there were already enough checks and
balances in the appellate review of capital murder cases. He seeks the
death penalty in some cases he prosecutes but not in others, he said,
depending on the facts of the crime and nature of the case.
"Prosecutors like myself should be thoughtful and careful about whatever
we do," Esparza said.
Sister Kathleen Judge, a nun in the El Paso Catholic Diocese and a member
of El Pasoans Against the Death Penalty, said the death penalty executed
some innocent people and denied other guilty people the opportunity for
repentance. She said she supported life imprisonment without parole.
"They should have every chance they need to recover as a whole human
being, and that takes time," Judge said.
The Texas Senate also passed a bill on Tuesday that would create a Texas
Innocence Commission to examine cases of innocent citizens who have been
wrongfully convicted. The bill will now head to the House.
28 people in Texas and 198 people nationwide have been cleared of crimes
through DNA testing after they were convicted, according to the Innocence
Project, a nonprofit legal clinic.
Texas has had more executions than any other state since the death penalty
was reinstated in 1972, according to the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice Web site.
(source: El Paso Times)
EU ambassador: Alabama marred by continued use of death penalty
Alabama has "turned the corner in many ways" but "all of that could be
spoiled" if the state continues to execute criminals and incarcerate too
many of its people, European Union ambassador John Bruton said today.
The United States and a handful of other countries carried out more than
90 % of executions in the world last year and Bruton said it is the EU's
responsiblity to share its view that the death penalty is wrong.
"It would be inappropriate if we failed to raise this issue with our
closest friend in the world," Bruton said.
Bruton was a speaking to a group of activists gathered by the Equal
Justice Initiative, the Montgomery-based nonprofit which provides legal
defense for Death Row inmates.
The death penalty is outlawed in the 27 member nations of the EU and
abolition of the death penalty is a precondition for joining.
Worldwide, 129 countries have either outlawed or do not currently practice
the death penalty; 68 nations still administer it.
(source: Birmingham News)
D.A. wants death penalty in murder/rape case
In Oakland, a prosecutor told jurors today that a death penalty
recommendation is "the only just verdict" for an Oakland man who's been
convicted of raping and strangling an 11-year-old girl more than 7 years
In his closing argument in the penalty phase of the trial of Alex DeMolle,
who's now 32, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney John Brouhard said,
"Without any hesitation I ask you to return a verdict of death."
At the end of the guilt phase of DeMolle's trial on March 20, jurors
convicted him of first-degree murder plus the special circumstances of
murder during rape and murder while committing lewd and lascivious acts
with a child for raping and killing Jaquita Mack in Oakland in the early
evening hours of July 24, 1999.
DeMolle's lawyers will present their closing arguments later today.
Once the closing arguments are completed, jurors will choose between
recommending either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
Although DeMolle hasn't been convicted of any other crimes, DeMolle said
the crime against Jaquita was so horrific that it warrants the death
Jaquita was mainly raised by her aunt in Newark but she was spending part
of the summer of 1999 with her parents in East Oakland.
Brouhard told jurors in the guilt phase of the trial that she went
bicycling late in the afternoon of July 24, 1999, and DeMolle, who lived
nearby, spotted her and lured her into his apartment in East Oakland by
promising she could play video games.
Brouhard said DeMolle, who has a wife and a young daughter, touched
Jaquita all over her body and "the purpose of touching this girl was to
get his sexual jollies with her."
The prosecutor said DeMolle killed Jaquita after raping her because he
didn't want to get caught, telling police, "I didn't want to be behind
bars the rest of my life."
In his closing argument today, Brouhard said, "Would it be fair that he
traps a girl, has sex with her and strangles the life out of her but gets
the lesser punishment and gets to lead his life?"
Brouhard criticized DeMolle's lawyers for presenting mitigating evidence
that one reason to spare DeMolle's life is that he likes to fish and has
"quite a passion for fishing."
Noting that jurors must weigh aggravating factors that favor the death
penalty against mitigating factors that support a life in prison
recommendation, the prosecutor asked, "How do you assign moral weight to
Brouhard said, "I cringed every time fishing was referred to and compared
it to the death of an 11-year-old girl."
(source: Bay City News)
Killer gets his wish with return to death row
James Leslie Karis, Jr., was ordered to die Wednesday for the murder of an
office worker in Placerville nearly 26 years ago.
Peggy Pennington, 34, and her 27-year-old friend from the county welfare
office were on their mid-morning work break when Karis kidnapped them,
drove them to a remote spot and raped the younger woman. The
twice-convicted rapist then shot both from behind, hit them with rocks and
left them for dead.
The younger woman survived and later identified Karis. He was sentenced to
death in 1982, but that sentence was overturned by a federal judge who
said jurors should have heard evidence of Karis' nightmarish upbringing.
In his second penalty-phase trial, Karis, 55, chose to represent himself.
He presented almost no defense and asked jurors to send him back to death
row. They did, and on Wednesday Judge Trena Burger-Plavan agreed that the
"revolting circumstances" of the Placerville attack warranted the death
She ordered Karis returned to San Quentin State Prison where he will be
held for execution pending an automatic appeal to the California Supreme
(source: Sacramento Bee)
Death row inmate out of appeals, federal court says
The 5th U-S Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a convicted murderer,
who has been on death row since 1988, has run out of appeals.
Earl Wesley Berry was convicted and sentenced to death in November 19,
1987 for the killing of Mary Bounds.
Authorities say Bounds was beaten to death after leaving her weekly church
choir practice. Berry admitted to the killing, and the confession was used
against him at trial.
The U-S Supreme Court in 2005 declined to hear Berry's appeal.
In 2006, a federal judge in Mississippi denied Berry's request for the
right to file another appeal.
Yesterday (Tuesday), a 3-judge panel of the 5th U-S Circuit Court sided
with the lower court.
(source: Associated Press)
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