[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----MONT., N.C., PENN., MD.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Feb 14 20:07:24 UTC 2007
Critics seek an end to Montana's death penalty
Arguing against the death penalty, Sen. Dan Harrington (D-Butte), said
Montana is a more civilized place than it was in the Old West.
"During the wild and wooly frontier days, a collapsible gallows traveled
around the state and executions were public spectacles," said Harrington,
speaking before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. "Now they have
become secretive, as if we, the public, are afraid to witness the sentence
passed by the courts."
Harrington is sponsoring a bill that would replace the death penalty with
a sentence of life in prison without parole as the most severe punishment
available to prosecutors and juries in the state.
Since 1976, there have been 3 executions by lethal injection in Montana.
Death penalty opponents who testified last week included the brother of
Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, legal experts, penal officials, and those whose
family members were victims of violent crime.
Ed Sheehy, a Missoula public defender who has been involved in eight death
penalty trials, said the required legal fees of a death penalty case are
exorbitant. Sheehy predicted 2 ongoing death penalty cases in Bozeman will
virtually wipe out the budget of the Office of the State Public Defender.
Gary Hilton, a former warden of the New Jersey prison system, said life in
prison without parole is as much a deterrent for criminals as the death
"I, personally, can think of nothing more horrific than growing old and
eventually dying in prison," Hilton said. "The older you get, the more you
become a target."
Morality and religious belief were central to the arguments of those who
spoke to retain the death penalty.
The Bible says if a person kills someone, he is to be put to death in
front of 2 witnesses, said Butte businessman Bernard Ferch.
Retired Attorney Doug Nulle said a life sentence does not guarantee that
killers won't commit further crimes in prison.
"Sentencing laws can change," Nulle said. "Someone with a life sentence
has nothing to lose by killing someone in prison."
Sen. Dan McGee (R-Laurel), said lawmakers have wrestled with the death
penalty for years. A bill to ban its use failed to make it out of
committee in 2005.
McGee, who favors the death penalty, said he plans to vote for the bill in
committee because the issue deserves a debate on the Senate floor.
(source: The Laurel Outlook)
Although executions are on hold, two dates are set
Despite a de facto death penalty moratorium, prison officials set
execution dates Tuesday for two death row inmates, including a Raleigh man
who gunned down his wife in a convenience store parking lot.
Last month, a Wake Superior Court judge halted three scheduled executions,
because of litigation about doctors' role in executions. That judge will
likely halt these two executions as well. Despite the court's ruling,
prison officials have to set execution dates once they receive notice from
the N.C. Attorney General's Office that all the appeals have been
Lawyers for Archie Billings, one of the inmates, have already filed a
lawsuit asking a judge to halt the execution, claiming that without a
doctor's participation, prison officials are unable to ensure that inmates
will not experience cruel and unusual punishment. The N.C. Medical Board
passed an ethics policy last month forbidding doctors from participating
in an execution in any way beyond being present. Billings' lawsuit also
challenges prison officials' use of a brain-wave monitor to determine an
inmate's level of unconsciousness without an anesthesiologist present.
Billings, 33, was convicted of the 1995 rape and murder of a Yanceyville
girl, 11, and the stabbing of her brother, 13. His execution is set for
Allen Holman, 47, is scheduled to be executed March 9. In December, Holman
gave up further appeals and requested an execution date be set. During
Holman's 1998 trial, Holman told the trial judge that he didn't care
whether the jury sentenced him to death. Holman was convicted of
first-degree murder for the 1997 shooting of his wife, Linda.
In July 1997, Holman had chased his wife south along N.C. 55 at speeds
exceeding 85 mph until she encountered an Apex police officer at a
convenience store at Olive Chapel Road. The officer pursued Holman, who
cut back through the parking lot and fired 2 shotgun rounds into his
(source: News & Observer)
Feb 26: 'Race and the Death Penalty in North Carolina' hosted by NC Policy
Watch and NC Coalition for a Moratorium
Monday, February 26th - Exploris Museum, Raleigh
One of the most fundamental guarantees of our criminal justice system is
that people charged with a crime receive a fair trial, regardless of their
race, gender, or national origin. But there is now evidence that the
current capital punishment system in North Carolina is not living up to
that constitutional promise and that race plays a significant role in
determining who is sentenced to death. Racial bias is playing an improper
role in jury deliberations and statistical analyses show that the race of
the victim is a critical factor in who receives the death penalty. Joining
us for this discussion is a distinguished panel of experts:
Charles Ogletree, Jr. , Harvard Law School Jesse Climenko Professor of
Law, Founding and Executive Director of the Charles Hamilton Houston
Institute for Race and Justice, and author of From Lynch Mobs to the
Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America.
Jack Boger, Dean and Wade Edwards Distinguished Professor of Law at
UNC-Chapel Hill, former capital punishment litigator and author of the
report Race and the Death Penalty in North Carolina, which is responsible
for first bringing attention to racial bias in the states judicial system.
Deborha Ross, is serving her 3rd term as a member of the North Carolina
House of Representatives, where she represents Wake County and serves as a
Majority Whip. She is also a veteran civil rights lawyer, ethics lecturer
and proponent of capital punishment reforms."
This is a crucial conversation that you must join.
Space is limited, advance registration is required By Thursday, Feb. 22nd
Registration fee: $10 includes a box lunch
Prof. Ogletree will be signing copies of his book From Lynch Mobs to the
Killing State: Race and the Death Penalty in America, which you can
purchase a copy of the book at the event for $22, courtesy of Quail Ridge
Where: Exploris Museum, 201 E. Hargett St., Raleigh
When: Monday, February 26th
Registration begins at 11:30 am
Discussion starts at 12 pm and concludes at 1:30 pm
Questions: Contact NC Policy Watch, 919-573-4650
(source: Carolina Newswire)
Man again sentenced to death in fatal slashing of gay artist
A death row inmate who was granted a retrial in the fatal slashing of a
gay artist nearly two decades earlier was again sentenced to death
A red-faced Richard Laird, 44, turned his head away from the jury as the
verdict was read. Led out in handcuffs and shackles, he declined to
The jury said it accepted that the defense had proved mitigating factors
including that Laird was physically and sexually abused as a child, but
found that the aggravating fact that 26-year-old Anthony Milano was
kidnapped before his throat was slashed outweighed that.
Milano's father, Vito, and sister, Annamarie, held hands, listening
solemnly without visible reaction as the verdict was read.
Laird's court-appointed defense attorneys, John Kerrigan and Keith
Williams, said they would talk to Laird about appeal options. "I don't
think the jurors understood the process," Williams said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Michelle Henry asked the jury to consider
the fear Milano was subjected to as Laird forced him to drive into a
secluded wooded area, dragged him from the car and came after him with a
"He of all people deserves the death penalty," Bucks County District
Attorney Diane Gibbons said. "He played with his victim, he tortured his
victim, and then he killed his victim."
Laird and Frank Chester, now 39, of Tullytown, were both sentenced to
death in 1988. Chester is also appealing.
Prosecutors said the 2 abducted Milano, of Bristol Township, from a Route
13 bar on Dec. 15, 1987, and forced him to drive to nearby woods.
Milano's body was found near his burning car. A medical examiner testified
that he was slashed "too many times to count."
The death penalty verdict culminated a 7-day retrial in Bucks County
court. The jury had again convicted Laird of first-degree murder on
(source: Associated Press)
Readers: Studies show death penalty does not deter crime
Al Eisner confused the facts surrounding death penalty repeal in Maryland
("Abolishing death penalty would be grave mistake," Feb. 7 letter).
All serious studies of the death penalty have shown overwhelming evidence
that it does not deter violent crime. Regions with the most executions
have the highest murder rates and those with the fewest executions have
the lowest murder rates.
As for cost, a death sentence almost always costs more than a life
sentence without the possibility of parole.
For these and other reasons, I agree with Gov. Martin OMalley's position
that Maryland's death penalty is ineffective and our limited resources are
better spent on proven crime prevention policies.
Kathy Bovello, Chevy Chase
The writer is on the Montgomery County steering committee of Maryland
Citizens Against State Executions, a statewide organization working to
repeal the death penalty in Maryland.
I am proud that we have a governor who is willing to be a leader working
for good government through the repeal of the death penalty.
The risk of convicting an innocent person is too great a cost to maintain
Maryland's ineffective death penalty. Since 1973, 120 innocent men and
women have walked off of our nation's death rows after evidence revealed
that they were sentenced to die for crimes they did not commit.
And mistakes have happened in Maryland. Kirk Bloodsworth was twice tried
and wrongly convicted for the rape and murder of Dawn Hamilton. He was
sentenced to die and spent nearly a decade behind bars before DNA testing
exonerated him in 1993. And there have been other similar cases in
Maryland where individuals were convicted of crimes and later exonerated,
like Anthony Gray and Bernard Webster.
It costs much more to prosecute a death penalty case, which can drag on
We have the option of life without parole, which will alleviate all the
current procedural problems.
For these and other reasons, I support Maryland's lawmakers who are
working to repeal our ineffective death penalty.
Carol Henig, Garrett Park
The writer is a member of Saint Mark Presbyterian Church and Montgomery
County Citizens Against State Executions steering committee.
I have no statistics to support or refute Al Eisners conclusion that
eliminating the death penalty would be a bad idea or that keeping it on
the books would discourage violent crime.
I do, however, have a question: Would Mr. Eisner, or any other death
penalty supporter, be willing to personally look someone in their eyes as
they take that persons life? Then their position supporting the death
penalty would be stronger.
Brendan Corcoran, Rockville
I assume that The Gazette published Al Eisner's letter to bait a response
from the readership, since his points are so blatantly and stereotypically
incorrect (yet common among those who believe that killing people who kill
people shows that killing people is wrong).
Anyone with a basic level of knowledge regarding the issue of the death
penalty knows these 2 simple facts:
*Capital punishment has never been shown to be a deterrent to violent
crime. It has no effect on crime rates.
*It actually costs more to put someone to death than to keep them in
prison for life.
Peter Auerbach, Silver Spring
The facts do not support Al Eisners assertion that the death penalty will
"discourage violent crime," and that its removal will "encourage criminals
to continue committing violent crimes."
The murder rate in states that do not have the death penalty is no higher
than those that do have it. A 1962 United Nations report concluded that
"All the information available appears to confirm that such a removal [of
the death penalty] has, in fact, never been followed by a notable rise in
the incidence of the crime no longer punishable by death."
In 1987, immediately after Louisiana executed 8 people in 8 1/2 weeks, the
murder rate in New Orleans increased by 16.39 %. The death penalty might
be a deterrent for rational people like you and me, who actually think
about the consequences for their actions.
It never made sense to me that we as a so-called "Nation under God" would
imitate the behaviors of violent criminals and stoop to their level and
likewise commit murder.
Michael Miehl, Silver Spring
(source: Letters to the Editor, Business Gazette)
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