[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----OHIO, N.Y., PENN., N.C., ILL., US MIL.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Fri Apr 27 14:45:41 UTC 2007
Rev. says killer was remorseful
The Rev. Neil Kookoothe, James Filiaggi's spiritual adviser, said
yesterday it was more trying for him to speak with his friend Monday,
knowing he was going to die, than to watch the lethal injection Tuesday
Filiaggi, 41, was executed for shooting to death his ex-wife, Lisa Huff
Filiaggi on Jan. 24, 1994. Kookoothe along with Filiaggi's friends, Zoltan
Krompecher, Danny Rocco and Cindy Hayes, witnessed the execution on his
''It was more difficult to say goodbye when he was still alive,''
Kookoothe said. ''It was surreal.''
Filiaggi will be cremated to honor his wish, said Kookoothe, pastor of the
Church of St. Clarence in North Olmsted. Filiaggi's funeral service is
planned for Saturday morning. His family is keeping the details of the
funeral and services private, Kookoothe said.
Filiaggi's parents and other family members have been doing extremely well
considering the circumstances, Kookoothe said, and it was less burdensome
for them because he had accepted his fate.
''Jim went into that with a great deal of courage,'' he said. ''Jim paid
the debt that society required of him.''
After the lethal injection procedure Tuesday, Kookoothe said he prayed
with Filiaggi's family and friends and read a passage from scripture.
''The support of family and friends was tremendous,'' Kookoothe said.
''Jim would have been proud of us.''
Ellen Jane Harris, Lisa Huff Filiaggi's mother, said Tuesday that Filiaggi
has never shown remorse for killing her daughter. But Kookoothe said he
wants people to know that Filiaggi was and has been sorry for killing his
Filiaggi thought every day about what he did, Kookoothe said. He did not
apologize or mention his ex-wife in his final statement.
''To say he was never remorseful, I know personally that's not the case,''
Kookoothe said. ''He was very remorseful. He always admitted he made a
mistake. Everybody has tried to paint him as a monster. I knew him as a
Harris said Tuesday that the bad things Filiaggi had done in his life
overshadowed the good. Lisa Filiaggi divorced him because she did not want
her daughters to grow up in an unhealthy environment, she said.
Kookoothe, who was ordained in 1995, met the FIliaggi's in 1993 during his
internship at St. Jude Church, 590 Poplar St., Elyria. He got involved
speaking out against the death penalty in 1996 and has protested all but
four or five executions since 1999, he said.
''Somebody asked me to write to a death row inmate,'' Kookoothe said.
''That's how it all started.''
Tuesday was the 1st time he witnessed an execution and it solidified his
position on the issue, he said.
Catholic teachings are strongly against capital punishment, he said,
adding that the death penalty is evil. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and others
who made decisions allowing Filiaggi's execution to go forward will have
to answer to God, Kookoothe said.
''It solves nothing,'' he said. ''Nobody walked out of there a winner
(source: The Morning Journal)
Life is not ours to take
The shooting death of Utica Police Officer Thomas Lindsey once again has
brought calls for reinstatement of the state's death penalty for those
convicted of killing police officers.
But even the slaying of a police officer does not justify taking a human
Family members of police officers killed recently in the line of duty
gathered with local and state political leaders in Albany Monday to call
for the reinstatement of capital punishment. In addition to Lindsey's
family, those attending included families of New Hartford police Officer
Joseph Corr and state Trooper Andrew Sperr, who was killed in the town of
Big Flats, near Elmira, when he stopped a vehicle containing bank robbery
suspects in March 2006.
Certainly, it's an emotion-charged issue. The thought of killing a police
officer - another state trooper was killed in a shootout Wednesday in
Delaware County - is unfathomable and punishment must be severe. Human
nature is to want revenge.
But life is not ours to take. And painful as it is to lose the people we
count on for protection, we cannot avenge death by killing the killer.
The death penalty has been a volatile topic for years in the state. George
Pataki made it a key campaign issue when he challenged incumbent Mario
Cuomo in 1994, and he reinstated it three months after taking office. But
the state Court of Appeals ruled in 2004 that part of the statute was
unconstitutional, and said that the defect could only be remedied by the
Legislature passing a new law.
Pataki fought to the end, renewing his call for reinstatement following
the killings of Corr and Sperr just 2 days apart last year. The
Legislature responded by passing measures mandating life in prison without
parole for anyone convicted of killing a police officer or corrections
officer. In the end, that might be a fate worse than death.
(source: Opinion, The Utica Observer Dispatch)
GOP wants Spitzer to push death penalty bill
Just hours after a state trooper was shot dead in the Catskills,
Republicans Wednesday called on Gov. Eliot Spitzer to lean on his fellow
Democrats in the state Legislature to reinstate the death penalty for cop
Spitzer, in fact, cut short a tour of the state designed to criticize
Republicans on campaign-finance issues and instead returned to the
Capitol. At a brief news conference late Wednesday afternoon, he said,
"Now is not the moment" for policy debates.
The Democrat-led Assembly had slated nine anti-gun bills for passage
Wednesday, including a measure to toughen gun-trafficking laws. And an
activist group, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, held a rally to urge
Republicans "get serious about shutting off the source of illegal guns."
The trooper, David C. Brinkerhoff, was killed in a shootout in
Margaretville at around 10 a.m. This is the second trooper to be killed
during a manhunt since September.
Just 2 weeks ago, Utica police Officer Thomas Lindsey was shot to death,
prompting calls to reinstate the death penalty for cop killers amid what
seemed to be spate of law-enforcement deaths.
At the Capitol, the two houses reacted in different ways. Assembly Speaker
Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, said the "proliferation of guns is a crisis
in this state" while Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick,
Rensselaer County, demanded the governor hold a public meeting on bringing
back the death penalty.
The state's capital-punishment law was effectively suspended in 2004 by
New York's highest court, which ruled parts of it unconstitutional. Many
Republicans want to revive the law by amending the flawed portion. But
others aim for what they called a pragmatic approach: reinstating it only
for cop killers and terrorists, conditions under which Spitzer said he'd
support capital punishment.
Bruno said it was up to Spitzer to use leverage to force the Assembly to
vote on a death-penalty bill. The Assembly has defeated such bills for the
last three years, with opposition apparently growing. But Bruno said the
popular freshman governor could use his influence the way he did to get
the Assembly to agree on other issues this year, such as civil confinement
of dangerous sex offenders.
Spitzer aide Darren Dopp said the governor planned to talk to lawmakers
about the issue as early as next week.
(source: The Utica Observer Dispatch
Governor: Now Is Not The Time To Debate Death Penalty
Fresh from meeting with the wife of the seriously wounded trooper and her
father at Albany Medical Hospital, Gov. Eliot Spitzer read a brief
statement a the Capitol. Flanked by the trooper who guards his office, the
governor would not wade into a debate over a death penalty bill and
suggested lawmakers seizing on the issue now were acting inappropriately.
Darren Dopp, Spitzers communications director, said the governor will
likely sit down with legislative leaders next week to discuss a death
penalty law, which Spitzer has long supported, particularly in the cases
of cop killers.
The governor cancelled a Florida fund-raising trip for Thursday as a
result of the trooper shootings, Dopp said.
An aide, Paul Larrabee, said Spitzer received an optimistic appraisal of
the condition of the wounded trooper. Spitzer is hoping to arrange a
meeting with the relatives of the trooper who died.
This is what he read:
"The state of New York suffered a tremendous loss; one of our best was
fallen, another was seriously wounded.
I visited with the family of the wounded trooper a while ago at Albany
Med. The anguish these family members feel is only surpassed by that of
the slain trooper's family.
These families knew that the obligations of being a state trooper created
every day the risk of harm and potential tragedy. On this day, at this
particular moment, I think it is best to simply reflect on the
extraordinary service and sacrifice of our troopers and their families.
Law enforcement is a difficult and dangerous job and our state troopers
deserve our respect, gratitude and support.
I know here at the Capitol there is an ongoing debate over legislative
initiatives and politics. Now is not the moment for that debate. There
will be much time for that later.
Right now we should be respectful for what has happened. Our thoughts
should be with the troopers, their families and personnel in the field.
Acting Superintendent Felton and other top state police officials are at
the scene coordinating ongoing action. They and we will be releasing
information when appropriate. Thank you very much."
(source: Albany Times Union)
Governor Rendell Signs Execution Warrants
Pennsylvania Governor Edward G. Rendell today signed warrants for the
execution by lethal injection of James E. Frey Jr. of Northumberland
County, Wayne Cordell Mitchell of Allegheny County, and Ernest R. Wholaver
Jr. of Dauphin County.
Frey, 48, was convicted of 1st-degree murder for the January 2004 death of
his estranged wife. He was formally sentenced to death on Feb. 22, 2005.
The state Supreme Court affirmed Frey's sentence on Aug. 22, 2006. His
petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari was denied on
Jan. 22, 2007.
Frey's execution is scheduled for Thursday, June 21.
Mitchell, 29, was convicted of 1st-degree murder for the September 1997
death of his estranged wife. He was formally sentenced to death on Dec. 8,
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Mitchell's sentence on July 19,
2006. His petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari was
denied on Jan. 16, 2007.
Mitchell's execution is scheduled for Tuesday, June 19.
Wholaver, 47, was convicted of 3 1st-degree murders for the December 2002
shootings of his wife and their 2 daughters. He was formally sentenced to
death on Aug. 31, 2004.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court affirmed Wholaver's sentence on August 22,
2006. His petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari was
denied on Jan. 16, 2007.
Wholaver's execution is scheduled for Wednesday, June 20.
Frey, Mitchell and Wholaver are all inmates at the State Correctional
Institution at Greene.
Governor Rendell has now signed 67 death warrants.
[source: Pennsylvania Governor]
(source: All American Patriots)
Death penalty focus should be on fairness
In the same week that HBO is set to air a documentary about Darryl Hunt,
who was released from prison after serving 18 years for a murder he didn't
commit, a new poll indicates that North Carolinians' support for the death
penalty is declining.
Thats not surprising given Hunt's and other high-profile cases of
prosecutorial misconduct and miscarried justice.
The changing sentiment also comes at a time when the state is operating
under a de facto death penalty moratorium resulting from a new code of
ethics adopted by the N.C. Medical Board in January that prohibits doctors
from monitoring or participating in executions.
North Carolina's execution protocol requires the presence of a doctor as a
safeguard against any violation of the Constitutions protection from cruel
and unusual punishment.
A moratorium was needed, but the concern that should be central has been
sidetracked. The central issue should be whether North Carolinas practices
and procedures administer the death penalty fairly and only in cases of
incontrovertible guilt. Instead, the focus is on whether lethal injection
is cruel and unusual punishment and the role of doctors in executions.
If the death penalty is to be a sentencing alternative, its hard to
conceive of a form of execution that will not cause some degree of
suffering, however momentary. Its also hard to argue with the father of
11-year-old Amy Jackson, who was raped and stabbed to death in 1995 by
Archie Billings, one of the inmates whose execution has been delayed as
the courts decide the lethal injection issue.
The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the father cannot understand why
anyone would care whether death row inmates suffer when lethal injection
is administered, especially if the murderers tormented their victims. In
addition to raping and murdering his daughter, Billings stabbed Jacksons
then 13-year-old son 23 times.
The News & Observer reported that even Billings appears to agree. "This
will be an easy out for me. What happened to Amy was a lot more painful.
If I should die, I guess I should be tortured the way the evidence shows
Amy and Bobby were," he said in a Readers Digest article published in
That's not to say we shouldn't make every effort to ensure that whatever
form of execution the state uses, it does all it can to make it as
painless as possible. But whats really needed is a focus on how to ensure
that murder investigations, prosecutorial behavior and all other judicial
procedures result in justice being administered fairly.
In 2005, the Senate passed a death penalty moratorium bill intended to
allow time to examine the state's practices and procedures. After hearing
testimony from Hunt, who was exonerated by DNA evidence, and Alan Gell,
who was sentenced to death and also spent years in prison for a murder he
didn't commit, the House Judiciary Committee sent a similar bill to the
full House. House leaders never called for a vote on the bill because
there wasnt sufficient support to pass it.
Some 58 % of North Carolina adults still support the death penalty,
according to the recent poll conducted by researchers at Elon University.
That's down from nearly 2/3 when the poll was last conducted in 2005.
That's a fairly significant change in two years. It seems likely that the
changing attitude has more to do with ensuring the punishment is meted out
fairly than with whether lethal injection is cruel and unusual.
If the death penalty is to be suspended or abandoned in North Carolina, it
should be because lawmakers have concluded that it is impossible to ensure
that this most final and ultimate of punishments can be dispensed fairly
and without error. The lethal injection issues pale by comparison.
(source: Editorial, Ashville Citizen-Times)
A Miscarrige Of Justice Examined On HBO; Democrats Debate On MSNBC
It's unusual, unfortunately, to find documentaries about inmates freed
from death row or life sentences because of new DNA evidence.
But the absorbing film "The Trials of Darryl Hunt" (HBO, 8 p.m.) might be
different. From the beginning, the mild-mannered black teen seemed
incapable of killing the white woman in the 1984 case in Winston-Salem,
Charged largely through the single eyewitness identification by a former
Ku Klux Klan member, and rushed into prosecution by a community demanding
the killer be found quickly, Hunt was convicted by a jury of 11 whites and
1 black, sentenced to life and largely forgotten.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the case three years ago, an investigation
in the local paper helped clear him. By that time, Ricki Stern and Annie
Sundberg had been working several years - ultimately a decade - on a film
that has already won several awards. Still, it's only half the time Hunt
spent imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit.
(source: Hartford Courant)
Murder victims' relatives urge N.C. lawmakers to fight death penalty
Some relatives of murder victims today urged North Carolina lawmakers to
do their best to prevent convicted killers from being executed.
A national organization called Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation
is holding a workshop today in Raleigh for people who want to take an
active role in fighting the death penalty.
Group members also visited the statehouse to voice their opposition to
Their work came as people on both sides of the death penalty debate step
up efforts at the Legislature.
Executions are effectively on hold in North Carolina as officials and
courts try to sort out the role doctors can and should play in carrying
out lethal injections.
(source: Associated Press)
Jury ponders death penalty for Ramsey-----Iowa man pleads guilty to 1996
In Lewistown, a jury is to begin hearing evidence today to decide whether
a man who pleaded guilty in a 1996 shooting spree that killed 2 young
girls and wounded three others is eligible for the death penalty.
Daniel Ramsey, 29, of Keokuk, Iowa, pleaded guilty as his murder retrial
was set to begin Wednesday, but his deal with prosecutors gave no
guarantee of avoiding a possible death sentence.
Ramsey was convicted and sentenced to death a decade ago for the killings
in small, rural Hancock County, just across the Mississippi River from
Keokuk in western Illinois. But the Illinois Supreme Court later
overturned the conviction and ordered a new trial.
Prosecutors are again seeking the death penalty and the same jury that
would have decided Ramsey's guilt or innocence now will rule whether he is
eligible. The minimum sentence he faces is life in prison.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys declined comment on the plea agreement,
citing a gag order issued by Fulton County Judge Steven Bordner that
prohibits them from commenting on the case until after Ramsey is
The deal was reached late Wednesday afternoon, about three hours after
Bordner sent home jurors who had been scheduled to hear opening statements
in the case. Bordner told jurors discussions were under way that could
shorten the trial, which had been expected to last 4 to 6 weeks.
Defense attorney Jim Dennis said in court that Ramsey understands the deal
and that he still could be sentenced to death.
"We have analyzed this with Mr. Ramsey in detail ... it is his choice,"
Ramsey quietly answered "yes" as Bordner asked a series of questions
regarding whether he understood the deal and possible sentence.
Ramsey pleaded guilty to four counts of 1st-degree murder, 3 counts of
attempted murder and 1 count each of aggravated criminal sexual assault
and home invasion. In exchange, prosecutors dropped 5 other murder counts
stemming from the same killings, along with 2 counts of home invasion and
1 count of residential burglary.
Authorities say Ramsey raped and killed his friend, 16-year-old Laura
Marson of Basco, on July 8, 1996, after they quarreled over Ramsey's
ex-girlfriend, Rachel Sloop, who Ramsey wanted to get back at for breaking
up with him.
He then drove to the Sloop home in Burnside, where he shot and injured
17-year-old Rachel Sloop and two toddlers staying at the home, and killed
Sloop's 12-year-old sister, Lonna. Ramsey then grazed his own head with a
shotgun blast and was arrested just before dawn on July 9, 1996.
Prosecutor Mike Atterberry said in court that Ramsey confessed after the
killing spree, telling police that he lured adults out of Sloop's home by
lying in a phone call to Sloop's mother then cut phone lines before going
into the house.
Ramsey was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in 1997. But the
Illinois Supreme Court overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial 3
years later, ruling the insanity defense used during his trial was based
on a state law later ruled unconstitutional.
Rachel Sloop and other family members sat quietly Wednesday as Bordner
accepted Ramsey's guilty pleas. Sloop and her family declined comment as
they left the Fulton County Courthouse, where the case is being heard on a
change of venue.
Ramsey had been the youngest person on death row in Illinois when he was
convicted at age 19. His life would have been spared had his 1st
conviction not been thrown out because former Gov. George Ryan emptied
death row in 2003 and commuted all sentences to life in prison.
Since then, the state has given the Supreme Court greater power to throw
out unjust verdicts, offered defendants more access to evidence and barred
the death penalty in cases that depend on a single witness. But Gov. Rod
Blagojevich has continued the moratorium on executions, saying he wants to
see how the changes work before allowing them to resume.
11 inmates are now on Illinois' death row, Department of Corrections
spokesman Derek Schnapp said.
(source: Associated Press)
Soldier accused of killing Suffern U.S. Army captain faces death penalty
The case of a soldier accused of killing his superior officers in Iraq has
been referred to a general court martial as a capital case, military
officials said this afternoon in a statement.
That means Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez would be eligible for the death
penalty if convicted of murder in the deaths of Capt. Phillip Esposito of
Suffern and Lt. Louis Allen of Milford, Pa.
Martinez's superiors, Esposito and Allen died June 8, the day after they
were serious injured in an explosion at Forward Operating Base Danger near
The charges Martinez faces at are: 2 specifications of murder, three
specifications of failure to obey order or regulation and one
specification of wrongful disposition of government property by giving
printers and copiers to an Iraqi national.
(source: The Journal News)
More information about the DeathPenalty