[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----TEXAS, N.DAK., OHIO, KY., PENN., UTAH, NEB.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jan 18 05:06:01 UTC 2007
San Antonio officer's killer executed in Huntsville----The policeman was
off duty when he interrupted 3 burglars at work
A self-described fascist who adopted the dark punk and goth lifestyle was
executed today for the slaying of a San Antonio police officer 12 years
Johnathan Moore, 32, repeatedly apologized to the officer's widow.
"It was done out of fear, stupidity and immaturity. It wasn't until I got
locked up and saw the newspaper; I saw his face and smile and I realized I
had killed a good man.'' Moore told Jennifer Morgan, who stood next to the
death chamber window surrounded by comforting friends.
He wished her happiness. He then counseled a friend who was a witness to
quit using heroin and methadone. He told his father that he loved him.
He was pronounced dead at 6:21 p.m., 8 minutes after the lethal dose of
Moore was convicted of gunning down Fabian Dominguez, 29, who interrupted
Moore and two companions during the burglary of a house in the officer's
neighborhood in January 1995. Dominguez was returning home from his
overnight shift when he spotted a suspicious car in the driveway of the
house and stopped to investigate.
When he confronted Moore, seated in the passenger side of the car, Moore
opened fire with a .25-caliber handgun. Moore also retrieved the officer's
service revolver and shot him three more times in the head.
He was arrested the day following the shooting after leading police on a
chase into neighboring Bandera County and wrecking his car by hitting a
couple of police cars.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review Moore's case late last year. An
appeal to stop the punishment by challenging the state's lethal injection
execution procedure was rejected Tuesday by the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals, and the Supreme Court then rejected a similar appeal about two
hours before Moore's scheduled execution time.
The San Antonio Police Officers Association chartered a bus and about two
dozen officers holding blue glow sticks stood outside the Huntsville Unit
of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to honor their fallen
colleague while prison officials inside carried out the punishment.
Moore is the 1st person convicted of killing a San Antonio police officer
to go to the death chamber since the state resumed carrying out capital
punishment in 1982.
The 2 others with Moore the night of the shooting were arrested a short
time after his arrest. Peter Dowdle, now 29, is serving a 25-year prison
term. Paul Cameron, also 29, is serving life.
On an Internet site, Moore said he "hung out with the Industrial, Punk and
Goth scene'' and described himself as "a full-blown fascist.''
But he added: "I have disappointed and let down everybody that has ever
Moore told the San Antonio Express-News last week the shooting was the
result of "fear and stupidity'' and credited Dominguez for being "the
"He was taking charge and he was running right into a situation that
required a lot of strength and courage,'' Moore said. "I think about that
Moore's capital murder trial was hardly routine.
Following his conviction and before punishment testimony was to begin at
his trial, he fired his lawyers so he could represent himself, then
rehired them the following day. Before the trial, he had tried to escape
from custody during a visit to a health clinic, grabbing a stun gun and a
can of pepper spray hidden for him in a restroom and unsuccessfully trying
to overpower a deputy guarding him. Authorities found a handcuff key
inside a shoe in his cell.
During the punishment phase, his mother, from the witness stand, shouted
profanities at lawyers for both sides and was arrested after deputies said
she bit a court bailiff.
Dominguez had been an officer about 2 years at the time of his death. He
had infant twin daughters, who now are 12.
More than a dozen other Texas inmates already have execution dates for
2007, including 2 more next week.
On Jan. 24, Larry Swearingen, 35, is set to die for the December 1998
abduction and strangling of a 19-year-old Montgomery County woman, Melissa
Trotter. The next day, Ronald Chambers, 51, is scheduled for injection for
abducting and fatally shooting Mike McMahan, 22, a Texas Tech student from
Washington state, during an April 1975 carjacking in Dallas.
Moore becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in
Texas and the 381st overall since the state resumed capital punishment on
December 7, 1982. Moore becomes the 142nd condemned inmate to be put to
death since Rick Perry became governor in 2001; 152 inmates were executed
during the tenure of then-Governor George W. Bush.
Moore becomes the 3rd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the
USA and the 1060th overall since the nation resumed executions exactly 30
years ago, when Gary Gilmore was shot to death by a firing squad in the
Utah State Penitentiary on January 17, 1977.
(sources: Associated Press & Rick Halperin **********************
Ramey found guilty in Edna triple slaying----Sentencing phase begins
today; faces death penalty
It took the jury in Kersean Ramey's capital murder trial one hour Tuesday
to find him guilty of shooting to death three people in Edna in 2005.
The sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today at the
Victoria County Courthouse, where it was moved from Edna following a
change of venue request.
Ramey faces either the death penalty or life in prison.
Emotions were muted as Judge Stephen Williams read the verdict to a
courtroom half filled with friends and family of the slain. Williams had
previously advised the audience against outbursts of emotions when the
verdict was read.
Even Ramey, dressed in a coat and tie, showed no emotion as he heard the
Ramey fatally shot Samuel Roberts, Tiffani Peacock and Celso Lopez inside
an Edna home on Aug. 24, 2005.
During the combined 4 hours of closing arguments, prosecutors described as
"ludicrous and crazy" defense attorneys' contention that it was a
co-defendant, LeJames Norman, who killed the three people during a botched
Norman testified during the trial that he and Ramey went to the Edna home
to steal money and ended up fatally shooting 3 people.
"LeJames Norman is a self-confessed liar," said defense attorney James D.
Evans III during his closing. "He lied to his mother. He lied to his
baby's momma. He lied to Edna police. He lied to Jackson County Sheriff's
Office. He lied under oath to the Jackson County Grand Jury ..."
Willie, Evans' co-counsel, reminded the 12-member jury that there was no
scientific evidence during the trial that directly linked the guns to the
Jackson County District Attorney Bobby Bell countered that if the 2 guns
weren't the weapons used, then it wouldn't have made sense for Ramey to
throw the revolvers into a lake.
Ramey's girlfriend testified earlier that she helped him throw the guns
into Lake Texana, where they were later recovered.
(source: Victoria Advocate)
Lubbock County Grand Jury Hands Down Indictments From Capital Murder to
A Lubbock County Grand Jury handed down 7 indictments Tuesday in cases
ranging from capital murder to burglary.
A week after authorities pull weapons believed to be used in the October
double homicide shooting outside the Boom Boom Cabaret, a Lubbock County
Grand Jury indicted, Richard Ramirez and Christopher Crittenden on 3
counts of capital murder in the deaths of Anthony Lopez and Gilbert
Victor. If convicted, Ramirez could face the death penalty. However,
because Crittenden was 17-years-old at the time, the most he can face is
up to life in prison.
The West Fork Mobile home park at 28th and Quaker was the scene of a fatal
stabbing last month. Olivia Sepeda was killed. Tuesday, the grand jury
indicted Juan Solorzano for murder.
The grand jury also indicted Jessie Herrera for murder. He's accused of
forcing the driver of the car his ex-girlfriend was riding in to pull
over. He then allegedly stabbed his ex-girlfriend, Refugia Avalos Montes.
She died later at University Medical Center.
(source: KCBD News)
Does Some North Dakota Legislator Have A Death Penalty Bill Up Their
David Elliot, communications director for the National Coalition to
Abolish the Death Penalty, predicted that debate over capital punishment
will see a resurgence in state capitols this year. Lawmakers in Minnesota,
New York, North Dakota and Wisconsin served notice of plans to seek
restoration of capital punishment.
Death penalty talk has been alive and well in the state what with Grand
Forks native Dru Sjodins murderer Alphonso Rodriguez being sentenced to it
earlier this year (it was a federal case) and the public outrage
surrounding Mindy Morgensterns murder, but I doubt anyone in Bismarck is
planning on a bill to bring it back. It failed miserably the last time it
was tried in 1995, and given this reporting from AP reporter Dale Wetzel
just a few weeks ago no one has even hinted at introducing something.
The Rodriguez case and the unrelated, highly publicized slaying of a
Valley City State University student, Mindy Morgenstern, have not
motivated any lawmakers to introduce a death penalty bill for the 2007
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Tim Schuetzle, the state prison
warden, said they were unaware of plans for a bill. John Olsrud, director
of the Legislative Council, the Legislature's research arm, said he did
not know of any death penalty measure. The council handles the drafting of
bills for lawmakers.
When the Legislature last handled a death penalty proposal in 1995, its
chief sponsor, Sen. Meyer Kinnoin, D-Palermo, announced months in advance
that he would be introducing one. Stenehjem said any death penalty measure
should have plenty of lead time before the legislative debates begin.
"This is an issue that requires a lot of preparation," Stenehjem said. "It
is not something you should just throw in at the last minute."
I think Mr. Elliot is mistaken in his assertion. Which is just as well.
The death penalty isn't likely to get through North Dakotas legislature
(according to the Bismarck Tribune article above a survey of state
legislators showed a big majority opposing the death penalty), and my
personal feeling is that were better off without it. It's more expensive
to execute prisoners than to keep them in jail, for one thing, and given
the flaws of our legal system if we arent putting people to death theres
no way the state can wrongfully execute anyone.
(source: Chad Nodland, Sayanythingblog.com)
Prosecutor vows to seek death penalty
New Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders is taking over prosecution of
one of his office's 2 pending death penalty cases, and vows he will do his
utmost to see that the defendant faces the ultimate punishment.
Sanders was in court Tuesday during a routine hearing for Dominic
Raifsnider, who is charged with murder and robbery in the Oct. 3 killing
of David Joseph of Covington.
Police said Joseph, 43, a clerk at the 12th Street Marathon, was stabbed
multiple times during a 9 a.m. robbery. He died from his wounds.
Sanders said he has no intention of offering any type of plea deal that
would remove the death penalty as a potential sentence.
"The only option Mr. Raifsnider has, as far as I'm concerned, is his
pleading guilty and throwing himself on the mercy of the court," Sanders
said. "Even then, I would seek to empanel a jury and ask for the death
Raifsnider had to be brought up from the Kentucky State Penitentiary in
Eddyville for the hearing, where he is serving the remainder of a 10-year
sentence for burglary. He was on parole at the time of Joseph's death.
During the hearing before Circuit Judge Patricia Summe, Sanders provided
defense attorneys with additional information, including an autopsy report
and police reports. Raifsnider is scheduled to stand trial starting March
Sanders said he wants to have more of a presence in the courtroom, rather
than have his assistants try all cases. Assistant Commonwealth Attorney
Jim Redwine will continue to prosecute the office's second death penalty
case, he said.
In that one, Broderick Brown, 18, of Covington is charged with walking up
to Michael Kidd, 31, of Cincinnati, in the Peaselburg section of Covington
on Aug. 3, demanding money, then fatally shooting him.
Since taking office earlier this month, Sanders frequently has appeared in
the Kenton County Justice Center, conducting preliminary hearings,
prosecuting regular court dockets and attending other pre-trial hearings.
He also seems to be getting along better with the judges, who frequently
criticized his predecessor, Bill Crockett, and his assistants early in his
term. At the judges' request, Sanders moved grand jury hearings from
Fridays to Tuesdays, to allow more time to contact attorneys for those
indicted and get them to court for the motion dockets on the following
Monday or Tuesday.
During his campaign for office, Sanders criticized Crockett for leaving
most of the in-court duties to his assistants.
"I'm spending quite a bit more time in the courtroom that my predecessor
did," Sanders said.
(source: Cincinnati Post)
Man found guilty in death-penalty case
A jury found Esau Milliner guilty of murder and burglary Wednesday in a
fatal stabbing last January.
The sentencing phase of the trial is to start Thursday morning. The
Jefferson Circuit Court jury could recommend the death penalty.
Milliner, 29, of Louisville, stabbed Kendrick Coleman, 26, in the neck at
Coleman's home in the 2500 block of Rowan Street during a fight.
Milliners attorneys argued that the men got into a fight in Colemans home
in the 2500 block of Rowan Street, and that their client acted in
Milliner had gone to the house to pick up his child, whose mother was with
Coleman, said defense attorney Ray Clooney.
Milliner acted in self-defense when he stabbed Coleman in the neck,
Clooney said in his closing argument.
But Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Christie Foster said Milliner went
to Coleman's home "to kick somebodys butt."
He forced his way in and slammed Colemans head against the wall, she said.
Coleman tried to get Milliner to leave, grabbing a knife to scare him
away. But Milliner took the knife and stabbed Coleman, Foster said.
Ending life not a choice for government
This is in response to your Jan. 9 editorial, "Death Penalty Should Be
First, as a death penalty opponent, I support punishment of those
convicted to the fullest extent, but without taking a life. Life in prison
without parole is just punishment for murderers. As a Christian, I believe
all life is sacred, and I am against my government's use of legalized
My support of abolishing the death penalty is in no way meant to overlook
or diminish the pain and suffering of victims and their families, but to
stop my government from playing God. Let the convicted live out the rest
of his/her life in prison; let God decide when he/she dies. I don't
support my government killing for me. Our prison systems are secure, and
life in prison without parole is the right choice.
Killing the convicted will not bring the victim back, and only puts our
commonwealth in the ranks with Iran, North Korea and China, countries
President Bush has labeled the "Axis of Evil." Our commonwealth continues
to justify the same barbaric punishment used by these nations.
I urge our representatives in Frankfort to allow this bill to come for a]
vote and let the people's voice be heard. It's time for Kentucky to join
with other states, such as West Virginia, and civilized nations around the
world and abolish the death penalty now.
Janet Jackson----Bowling Green
(source: Letter to the Editor, Bowling Green Daily News)
Jury rehearing case of man taken off death row after 19 years
A man who was once days away from being executed for a 1983 drug slaying
began arguing his case anew to a Philadelphia grand jury on Wednesday.
Federal appellate courts overturned both the death sentence and murder
conviction in the case of Florencio Rolan, 50, saying he had not been
given effective counsel.
After 22 years in prison 19 of them on death row Rolan, wearing a soft
gray sweater and slacks, silently shook his head "No" as a prosecutor
insisted that he was nonetheless guilty.
"It's been a long time. But the evidence the truth that has not
changed," Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson told the jury Wednesday
Rolan now argues that he shot 24-year-old Paulino Santiago in self-defense
as Santiago charged at him with a knife in an abandoned house. In 1984, he
was convicted of first-degree murder after his lawyer declined to call any
defense witnesses, despite Rolan's request to put on two potential alibi
Key witnesses on both sides have since died, including one of the men
Rolan hoped to call, who died just last year. Their testimony from earlier
court proceedings will be read aloud in court, lawyers said.
Sam Silver, 1 of 2 pro bono defense lawyers, suggested that the conflict
between the 2 men involved more than a $5 drug debt, but also a shared
interest in the same woman.
According to Gilson, Rolan had been paroled for an earlier slaying only a
short time before killing Santiago. Rolan's murder conviction in the 1st
homicide was also thrown out, leading to a plea to a lesser manslaughter
charge, Gilson said.
Santiago was killed in the city's now-gentrifying Spring Garden section,
on a street that served at the time as an open-air drug market, Gilson
The trial is expected to last 2 or 3 days.
(source: Associated Press)
Protests 30 years after Gilmore---- Amnesty International plans vigil at
prison to oppose death penalty
It was 30 years ago today that Gary Gilmore was strapped to a chair before
a firing squad and uttered his famous last words: "Let's do it."
The controversial execution that marked the reinstatement of the death
penalty in the United States is being revisited in protests at the Utah
State Prison this weekend.
"We're marking it," Terry McCaffrey of the global human-rights group
Amnesty International said Tuesday. "It's not that we're glorifying Gary
Gilmore. It's time to hopefully bring about healing."
Amnesty International plans to hold a vigil outside the prison Saturday,
protesting reinstatement of the death penalty 30 years ago. The group
plans to read the names of more than 1,000 people who have been executed
since Gilmore as well as their victims.
"We feel it's important because the death penalty started in 1977 at the
prison in Utah and it was the first one after the Supreme Court made
executions legal again," McCaffrey said. "It's an important date for us to
Gilmore, 36, was sentenced to death after being convicted of the murder of
Bennie Jenkins Bushnell, a motel manager in Provo. Gilmore also confessed
to shooting and killing Max Jensen during a robbery at an Orem gas
Gilmore's execution and choice to die by firing squad generated
international publicity and international debate over the death penalty.
Currently, there are 9 people on death row in Utah. 4 of them have elected
to die by firing squad, Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Jack Ford
said. Those inmates made their choices before Utah lawmakers eliminated
the firing squad as an execution option in 2004.
Among those participating in Saturday's vigil will be Alan Clarke, a
criminal justice professor from Utah Valley State College, and members of
the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City. While here, the head of Amnesty
International plans to request a meeting with leaders of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"We want to open the dialogue with them," McCaffrey said. "I understand
what the position of the LDS Church is, but there are areas of common
An LDS Church spokesman declined to comment on Amnesty International's
request for a meeting. While the Catholic Church has been vocal about its
opposition to the death penalty, the LDS Church has not taken a formal
"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regards the question of
whether and in what circumstances the state should impose capital
punishment as a matter to be decided solely by the prescribed processes of
civil law," a statement on the LDS Church's Web site says. "We neither
promote nor oppose capital punishment."
(source: Deseret Morning News)
Man Once On Death Row Dies After Prison Release
Craig Marvel, a convicted murderer who once was within hours of a firing
squad for his crime, died in a Provo hospital, 10 months after he was
released from prison.
Marvel, 59, died Jan. 10 at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center,
spokeswoman Janet Frank said Wednesday.
Marvel had cancer and cirrhosis, his wife, Gay Marvel, told The Salt Lake
He and 2 other men were convicted of killing a rival motorcycle gang
member. Michael T. Hogan was found shot and strangled in a canyon near
Price in 1975.
Marvel and the others were sentenced to death. The death penalty, however,
was never carried out because judges intervened. At one point, Marvel was
within 24 hours of a firing squad, the Tribune reported.
The death sentences were commuted after a judge in 1980 said trial
prosecutors did not share statements from people who attended a party with
Marvel was released on parole in March 2006 and settled in Spring City in
Sanpete County. He told a friend that he felt "just hatched out of an
"I think he was very thankful and blessed he had the time to enjoy what he
had left," said Gay Marvel of New Bedford, Mass.
(source: Associated Press)
Electric chair's use in Nebraska comes under fire
It's known simply as The Chair. There's no question that it's become
unusual. But is Nebraska's mode of execution cruel?
Some 2 dozen states have abandoned the electric chair as their preferred
method of meting out justice to convicted killers. Some have turned the
chairs into macabre museum pieces.
But Nebraska's nearly century-old chair is no relic. It sits, wired and
ready, in the center of the death chamber at the Nebraska State
Penitentiary, waiting for the next death row killer who runs out of
Of the 38 states with capital punishment, Nebraska is the only one that
uses the electric chair as its sole method of execution. Though a handful
of other states still give condemned killers the choice of electrocution,
today it's almost never used.
Ultimately, the chair's unique status in Nebraska could leave the state
legally without the ability to carry out executions.
The Nebraska Supreme Court this year almost certainly will face the
question of whether the electric chair violates the U.S. Constitution's
protections against "cruel and unusual punishment."
3 appeals challenging the constitutionality of the chair are moving toward
oral arguments, probably by fall. It would mark the first time Nebraska's
high court has considered scientific evidence on the issue.
There's also the potential for the U.S. Supreme Court to signal its view.
Legal experts say there are grounds on which the use of the chair might be
If nothing else, Nebraska's status as the only state where the condemned
have no choice but the chair makes the punishment an "unusual" one, said
Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University in New York. It's an
indication that the chair no longer meets contemporary standards of
decency, she said. "From that viewpoint alone," Denno said, "Nebraska is
The pending cases also could add urgency to the Legislature's perennial
debate over replacing electrocution with lethal injection. A bill to make
that change could be introduced this week. Previous bills were blocked by
capital punishment opponents who hope the state's method of execution
might be ruled illegal - thus effectively leaving Nebraska with no death
Whether the electric chair is a cruel punishment may well be found
somewhere in the thousands of pages of documents filed in the pending
Nebraska Supreme Court cases.
The files contain stark photos of burns on the bodies of those who had sat
in the electric chair. There are grisly accounts of other states' botched
electrocutions in which foot-high flames shot up from the condemned.
Electrical engineers, physicists and doctors discuss how electricity flows
through the body, calculate how much current reaches the brain and debate
how much pain the condemned feel.
"There's enough evidence for (the court) to say it's cruel and unusual,"
said James Mowbray, head of a Nebraska state agency charged with defending
many death row inmates.
Joe Smith, the Madison County prosecutor who won death penalty verdicts
against 3 men in the 2002 Norfolk bank killings, acknowledges that the
chair has fallen out of favor.
But he is skeptical that a court would fail to uphold a method of
execution with more than a century of history in this country.
The Nebraska challenge comes at the same time the chair's widespread
replacement - lethal injection - is also being criticized as cruel and
Florida suspended all executions after a botched lethal injection in which
the prisoner showed signs of suffering and took more than 30 minutes to
die. A federal appeals court in California halted executions there because
of concerns over faulty lethal injection procedures.
And debate over the chair comes after much of the world watched the
hanging last month of Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
Despite controversy over the taunting atmosphere in which it was
conducted, Saddam's hanging achieved one thing long sought in U.S.
executions: His death was swift and certain.
Hanging was the most common method of execution in the United States
before it was replaced in the late 19th century by electrocution, which
was viewed as more humane.
Nebraska adopted electrocution in 1913. It's been used 15 times, most
notably for mass killer Charles Starkweather in 1959. The last to die in
the chair was Robert Williams in 1997.
But, over time, Nebraska has become increasingly isolated in its use of
4 states switched from electrocution to lethal gas from 1935 to 1955, and
a mass movement of states in favor of lethal injection began in 1977.
Once used in 26 states, electrocution now is offered in only four besides
Nebraska. In those four states, it's an option for the condemned, who
rarely choose it. The electric chair was used in only 4 of 374 executions
nationally from 2001 to 2006.
In Nebraska, efforts to change to lethal injection over the past decade
have been blocked primarily by State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, a vocal
death penalty opponent.
It's hard to gauge the U.S. Supreme Court's contemporary position on
electrocution because the court has said nothing about its use for more
than a half-century. As Keith County District Judge Robert Hippe said in a
2005 ruling, the high court's last opinion "was written when electrocution
was popular . . . as opposed to being almost extinct."
In 1999, however, the high court agreed to hear a challenge out of Florida
- the court's 1st electrocution case since 1946.
The case was dropped when Florida adopted lethal injection. Regardless,
Denno said, the Supreme Court's decision to hear that case likely
signified "the beginning of the final end to electrocution."
Its next electrocution case could well come from Nebraska.
Carey Dean Moore, convicted in the 1979 slayings of 2 Omaha cab drivers,
has asked for a hearing before the nation's highest court.
Moore has not directly asked the justices to consider whether
electrocution is cruel and unusual. His argument says the Nebraska Supreme
Court erred by ruling that he couldn't challenge the electric chair now
because he didn't raise the issue earlier.
If the U.S. Supreme Court gives Moore a hearing, its decision could signal
a new view on electrocution.
Separate cases before the Nebraska Supreme Court also could decide the
Jorge Galindo and Jose Sandoval, convicted in the Norfolk bank fatal
shootings of 5 people, and Raymond Mata Jr., convicted of killing and
dismembering a 3- year-old boy in Scottsbluff, all are challenging the
One key to whether electrocution is considered cruel, Denno said, is
whether it inflicts "wanton and unnecessary" pain. On that issue, experts
With electrodes attached to the condemned killer's head and lower leg, the
chair sends 2,450 volts through his body - producing enough current to
light 240 hundred-watt bulbs. But just where that electricity flows, and
even how it kills, remains unknown to science.
3 expert witnesses for the state in the pending Nebraska cases conclude
that the current would shoot into the condemned killer's brain at the
speed of light, almost instantaneously rendering him unconscious.
"Given that the brain would no longer function as a brain at that instant,
pain would not be felt," said Michael Morse, an electrical engineer at the
University of San Diego.
Defense experts dispute that.
"I emphatically disagree," said Donald Price, a pain expert at the
University of Florida's dental school. "No one has produced a shred of
evidence in 100 years" that unconsciousness is instantaneous.
Though human tissue is a good conductor of electricity, defense experts
said, bone is not. Most of the current goes around the skull, with very
little reaching the brain.
They offer cases where people had run-ins with high voltage current,
remained conscious and suffered severe pain. Included was one youth who
hit his head on a 3,000-volt line while standing atop a railroad car,
creating a current level and electrical path similar to the electric
"I believe it's extremely likely that the procedure in Nebraska can be
extraordinarily painful, at least in the early stages of electrocution,"
said John Wikswo of Vanderbilt University. Though state witnesses said the
condemned suffer a quick brain death, defense experts said it's likely a
much slower death caused by the heart's inability to pump blood. There are
numerous accounts, including some in Nebraska, of electrocuted killers who
still breathed and had heartbeats long after initial jolts.
Even if pain is not involved, Denno said, mutilation of the body can cause
Post-execution photos of Williams, John Joubert and Harold Otey - the last
3 executed in Nebraska - show significant burns. One expert witness said
he saw evidence of charring.
The national trend against electrocution is probably the most critical
factor in the Nebraska cases, Denno said.
Mowbray, the defense attorney, said testimony in the current cases as well
as recent botched lethal injections raise questions about whether Nebraska
should join Iowa and the 11 other states that have no death penalty.
"There just isn't a humane way to kill people," he said.
But Norfolk's Smith said he thinks the botched injection cases and the
lack of solid proof that electrocution causes unnecessary pain buttress
the case for Nebraska's chair.
"If you look at the hard science, the method is good," Smith said. "I
think electrocution is the most humane way."
Executions have been carried out worldwide by the following methods since
- Beheading in Saudi Arabia and Iraq
- Electrocution in the United States
- Hanging in Egypt, Iran, Japan, Jordan, Pakistan, Singapore and other
- Lethal injection in China, Guatemala, the Philippines, Thailand and the
-Shooting in Belarus, China, Somalia, Taiwan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and
- Stoning in Afghanistan and Iran
- Abolition of the death penalty
- 88 countries and territories have abolished the death penalty for all
crimes -11 countries have abolished the death penalty for all but
exceptional crimes such as wartime crimes
- 29 countries can be considered abolitionist in practice: They retain the
death penalty in law but have not executed anyone for 10 years or more
- That totals 128 countries that have abolished the death penalty in law
or in practice
- 69 countries and territories retain and use the death penalty
[source: Amnesty International]
In 2005, 94 % of all known executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi
Arabia and the United States.
During 2005, at least 2,148 people were executed in 22 countries and at
least 5,186 people were sentenced to death in 53 countries.
In 2005, Iran executed at least 94 people, and Saudi Arabia at least 86.
There were 60 executions in the United States.
[source: Amnesty International]
Nebraska death row inmates
David Dunster: Strangled prison roommate Larry Witt of Grand Island in
1997. At his request, Dunster was transferred to Nebraska in 1993.
Sentenced Jan. 26, 2000, for Witt slaying.
Arthur Lee Gales: Convicted of strangling his girlfriends children in
Omaha. Resentenced to death row in December 2003.
Jorge Galindo: Convicted of 5 counts of 1st-degree murder for his role in
the Norfolk bank robbery slayings in September 2002. Sentenced November
Jeffrey Hessler: Convicted of abducting, raping and murdering a
15-year-old Gering newspaper carrier in February 2003. Sentenced in May
John Lotter: Killed Teena Brandon, 21, Lisa Lambert, 24, and Phillip
Devine, 22, in a farmhouse near Humboldt on New Years Eve 1993. Sentenced
Feb. 21, 1996.
Raymond Mata Jr.: Convicted of killing a Scottsbluff 3-year-old and
feeding his remains to a dog. Sentenced Sept. 29, 2005
Carey Dean Moore: Killed Omaha cab drivers Reuel Van Ness Jr. and Maynard
Helgeland in 1979. Sentenced June 20, 1980.
Charles Jess Palmer: Killed Grand Island coin dealer Eugene Zimmerman in
1979. Sentenced Sept. 6, 1984.
Michael Ryan: Former cult leader tortured and killed James Thimm in 1985.
Also convicted in the beating death of Luke Stice, 5, son of a cult
member. Sentenced Oct. 16, 1986.
Jose Sandoval: Convicted of 5 counts of 1st-degree murder for his role in
the Norfolk bank robbery slayings in September 2002. Sentenced Jan. 14,
Erick Vela: Convicted of 5 counts of 1st-degree murder for his role in the
Norfolk bank robbery slayings in September 2002. Sentenced Jan. 13, 2007.
The Nebraska State Penitentiary was given responsibility for executions in
1903. Since then, 23 people, all men, have been legally put to death.
Name - Age - Date executed
-Gottlieb Neigenfind - 28 - March 13, 1903
-William Rhea - 18 - July 10, 1903
-Harrison Clark - 31 - Dec. 13, 1907
-Frank Barker - 27 - Jan. 17, 1908
-R. Mead Shumway - 27 - March 5, 1909
-Bert Taylor - 39 - Oct. 28, 1910
-Thomas Johnson - 39 - May 19, 1911
-Albert Prince - 24 - March 21, 1913
-Allen V. Grammer - 22 - Dec. 20, 1920
-Alson B. Cole - 21 - Dec. 20, 1920
-James B. King - 26 - June 9, 1922
-Walter B. Simmons - 24 - Aug. 11, 1925
-Henry E. Bartlett - 35 - April 29, 1927
-Frank Carter - 46 - June 27, 1927
-Frank E. Sharp - 49 - Oct. 19, 1928
-Henry Sherman - 20 - May 31, 1929
-Joseph T. MacAvory - 23 - March 23, 1945
-Timothy Iron Bear - 22 - Dec. 1, 1948
-Roland Dean Sundahl - 20 - April 30, 1952
-Charles Starkweather - 20 - June 25, 1959
-Harold Otey - 43 - Sept. 2, 1994
-John Joubert - 33 - July 17, 1996
-Robert Williams - 61 - Dec. 2, 1997
(source: Omaha World, Jan. 14)
More information about the DeathPenalty