[Deathpenalty] death penalty news----USA, S. DAK., IDAHO, OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Jul 5 16:12:41 CDT 2007
Death too good for him
Re: "Put end to death penalty," by Rick Halperin, Tuesday Letters.
Gary Ridgway is found guilty of killing 48 women and girls, but Mr.
Halperin thinks it's cruel and unusual punishment to give him the death
penalty? After this monster arbitrarily kills all these beautiful mothers
and daughters, why should he be allowed to breathe the same air as the
rest of us?
The only suitable place for him in prison would be under it. Shame on
Washington for wasting the taxpayers' money to keep him alive.
Anthony Passacantando, Plano (source: Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning
In the 1960s, Chief Justice Earl Warren presided over a Supreme Court that
interpreted the Constitution in ways that protected the powerless racial
and religious minorities, consumers, students and criminal defendants. At
the end of its 1st full term, Chief Justice John Roberts's court is
emerging as the Warren court's mirror image. Time and again the court has
ruled, almost always 5-4, in favor of corporations and powerful interests
while slamming the courthouse door on individuals and ideals that truly
need the courts shelter.
President Bush created this radical new court with 2 appointments in quick
succession: Mr. Roberts to replace Chief Justice William Rehnquist and
Samuel Alito to replace the far less conservative Sandra Day OConnor.
The Roberts court's resulting sharp shift to the right began to be
strongly felt in this term. It was on display, most prominently, in the
school desegregation ruling last week. The Warren court, and even the
Rehnquist court of 2 years ago, would have upheld the integration plans
that Seattle and Louisville, Ky., voluntarily adopted. But the Roberts
court, on a 5-4 vote, struck them down, choosing to see the 14th
Amendment's equal-protection clause which was adopted for the express
purpose of integrating blacks more fully into society as a tool for
protecting white students from integration.
On campaign finance, the court handed a major victory to corporations and
wealthy individuals again by a 5-4 vote striking down portions of the
law that reined in the use of phony issue ads. The ruling will make it
easier for corporations and lobbyists to buy the policies they want from
Corporations also won repeatedly over consumers and small stockholders.
The court overturned a jury's award of $79.5 million in punitive damages
against Philip Morris. The Oregon Supreme Court had upheld the award,
calling Philip Morris's 40 years of denying the connection between smoking
and cancer "extraordinarily reprehensible."
In a ruling that will enrich companies at the expense of consumers, the
court overturned again by a 5-4 vote a 96-year-old rule that
manufacturers cannot impose minimum prices on retailers.
The flip side of the courts boundless solicitude for the powerful was its
often contemptuous attitude toward common folks looking for justice. It
ruled that an inmate who filed his appeal within the deadline set by a
federal judge was out of luck, because the judge had given the wrong date
a shockingly unjust decision that overturned 2 court precedents on missed
When Chief Justice Roberts was nominated, his supporters insisted that he
believed in "judicial modesty," and that he could not be put into a simple
ideological box. But Justice Alito and he, who voted together in a
remarkable 92 % of nonunanimous decisions, have charted a thoroughly
predictable archconservative approach to the law. Chief Justice Roberts
said that he wanted to promote greater consensus, but he is presiding over
a court that is deeply riven.
In the term's major abortion case, the court upheld again by a 5-4 vote
the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, even though the court struck
down a nearly identical law in 2000. In the term's major church-state
case, the court ruled 5-4 that taxpayers challenging the Bush
administrations faith-based initiatives lacked standing to sue, again
reversing well-established precedents. In a few cases, notably ones
challenging the Bush administrations hands-off approach to global warming
and executions of the mentally ill, Justice Anthony Kennedy broke with the
conservative bloc. But that did not happen often enough.
It has been decades since the most privileged members of society
corporations, the wealthy, white people who want to attend school with
other whites have had such a successful Supreme Court term. Society's
have-nots were not the only losers. The basic ideals of American justice
lost as well.
(source: Editorial, New York Times)
Death As A Deterrent
Capital punishment clearly increases the risk to criminals of engaging in
various crimes, especially murder. But does this increased risk affect
Last week the academic debate erupted in the media with an Associated
Press article headlined "Studies: Death Penalty Discourages Crime," but
even this recognition downplays the general consensus on the findings.
The media is a bit Johnny-come-lately in recognizing all the research that
has been done on the death penalty over the last decade, with nine of the
12 refereed academic studies by economists finding that the death penalty
Some academics are yet to be convinced and argue that the risk of a
criminal being executed for murder is so remote that, "It is hard to
believe that fear of execution would be a driving force in a rational
criminal's calculus in modern America."
Yet, before trying to answer whether this risk to criminals is
significant, let's first consider how another group that faces similar
dangers reacts to the risk of death.
Academics classify being a police officer as an "extremely dangerous" job.
In 2005, 55 police officers were murdered on the job, while another 67
were accidentally killed. With nearly 700,000 full-time, sworn law
enforcement officers in the United States, the murder rate of police
officers comes to 1 in 12,500, a ratio that jumps to 1 in 5,600 when we
include accidental deaths.
Police officers undertake a variety of measures to reduce the dangers:
They wear bullet-proof vests, develop special procedures for approaching
stopped cars and in some situations officers wait for backup even when
this increases the probability that a suspect will escape.
These dangers also create strain on officers' marriages, contributing to a
divorce rate that is twice that of the general population.
Officers undertake all these measures as a natural human reaction to the
risk of death -- the riskier an activity, the more a person will usually
avoid it or take steps to make it safer.
The risk that a violent criminal faces from execution is much greater than
the risk of a police officer being killed. In 2005, there were almost
16,700 murders in the United States and 60 executions. That translates to
one execution for every 278 murders. In other words, a murderer is 20
times more likely to be executed than a police officer is to be
deliberately or accidentally killed on duty.
Those who argue that the death penalty has no effect on violent crime
assume that the risk of execution in no way deters criminals from
committing capital crimes. While criminals, just like police officers, are
naturally less adverse to danger than, say, school teachers or
accountants, the notion that it is irrational for them to take into
account such an enormous additional risk is irrational.
But a non-trivial issue is how to define the execution rate. It actually
matters a lot.
When defined as executions per murder committed, academics find that the
death penalty deters murders and saves lives.
But those academics who instead define their measure as death penalty
executions per person in prison find no relationship. Which is the best
Clearly, we should consider the real risk to the potential murderers, and
executions per murder seems to be a much more direct measure of that risk.
By contrast, executions per prisoner includes all sorts of extraneous
crimes in the measure.
For example, if fewer criminals were arrested and imprisoned for stealing
radios from cars, executions per prisoner inexplicably implies that the
risks to committing murder increases. It is not at all surprising that
this strange measure implies no real link between the execution rate and
(source: Post Chronicle)
Lethal-injection foes mount challenges nationwide-----Doctor who devised
3-drug method says changes should be made
The 3-drug method using sodium pentothal, pancuronium bromide and
potassium chloride to perform executions, which will be used for South
Dakota inmate Elijah Page's execution next week, has come under attack in
several other states for being inhumane and allowing too much room for
Ohio and California are 2 of those states.
As of Jan. 1, there were 191 inmates on Ohio's death row, at least 15 of
whom are now plaintiffs in Cooey v. Taft, which challenges the
constitutionality of Ohio's lethal injection procedures.
Clarence Carter is scheduled to be executed in Ohio the same week Page is
scheduled to be executed in South Dakota, but U.S. District Court Judge
Gregory Frost granted Carter a stay of execution while Cooey v. Taft
continues to be appealed.
6 more death row inmates in Ohio joined Cooey v. Taft after the May 24
execution of Christopher Newton, 37. It took the guards performing that
execution more than 90 minutes to find Newton's veins, and Newton did not
die until 16 minutes after the drugs were administered.
Both Newton and Carter were given the death penalty for murdering
cellmates, Newton in 2001 and Carter in 1989.
Earlier this week, the mother of Joseph Clark, an Ohio inmate executed in
May 2006, sued the head of Ohio's prisons, saying the way her son was
executed amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
It took almost 90 minutes to execute Clark, 57, who was sentenced to death
in November 1984 for killing a gas station attendant.
During the 1st injection attempt, Clark said, "It don't work," as the
execution team attempted to inject the 1st intravenous line.
During the 2nd injection attempt, he said, "Can you just give me something
by mouth" to end this?
Executions are supposed to last about 20 minutes.
Of the 36 states that use the death penalty, South Dakota ranks 32nd in
number of inmates on death row, with 4. California is 1st, with more than
600 inmates on death row.
Texas still ranks 1st in the number of executions despite ranking 3rd with
number of inmates on death row, with about 400.
California death-row inmate Michael Morales, 49, was scheduled to be
executed Feb. 21 for the 1981 rape and strangulation murder of 17-year-old
Terri Lynn Winchell.
That execution has been stayed indefinitely, and in May, the state of
California released a report proposing revisions to that state's
The report came in response to U.S. District Judge Jeremy Fogel's
identification of five main deficiencies in California's death-penalty
Those 5 deficiencies cited were:
* Inconsistent and unreliable screening of execution-team members.
* A lack of meaningful training, supervision and oversight of that team.
* Inconsistent and unreliable record keeping.
* Improper mixing, preparation and administration of the 1st drug (the
* Inadequate lighting, overcrowded conditions and poorly designed
The state of California's report addressed those 5 deficiencies, and that
report awaits legislative action.
On July 1, South Dakota joined the majority of states, when legislation
went into effect to specify that a 3-drug combination will be used in all
executions, including Page's next week.
Of the 36 states with the death penalty, 27 specifically use a 3-drug
States that do not have specified lethal-injection procedures are Kansas,
Kentucky, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and
Virginia. New Jersey specifies only using the 1st 2 drugs, without the one
that induces cardiac arrest, and North Carolina uses a 3-drug combination
despite a law specifying the use of 2.
Critics of the anesthetic used, sodium pentothal, say it does not
completely anesthetize all inmates.
If the prisoner is not completely unconscious, critics say he may be able
to feel the asphyxiation caused by the 2nd drug, pancuronium bromide, but
will likely be unable to cry out in pain.
The doctor who designed the 3-drug lethal injection criticized it in an
interview with CNN earlier this year.
That doctor, Jay Chapman, formulated the 3-drug concoction in the 1970s.
He told CNN that he now believes some changes should be made.
He said there are drugs available now that were not available in the 1970s
and could be used to revamp lethal injection.
He said he would recommend keeping the 3rd drug, potassium chloride, which
stops the heart, but would take a look at changing the first 2: the
anesthetic and the paralytic agent.
Chapman told CNN that another problem with lethal injection is that those
administering it are not trained professionals because ethical oaths
prevent medical professionals from participating in executions. As a
result, needles often are not properly inserted into an inmate's veins, or
administrators take a long time finding a vein, prolonging the execution,
such as in Newton's case.
(source: Rapid City Journal)
SOUTH DAKOTA----impending execution//volunteer
South Dakota To Execute Athens Man
South Dakota's 1st execution in 60 years and what would be its 16th on
record is scheduled for sometime next week, nearly a year after the
governor delayed it because of legal concerns over the lethal injection
Elijah Page, 25, of Athens has ended all appeals and asked to die by for
the March 2000 murder of Chester Allan Poage, 19, of Spearfish in the
northern Black Hills.
He was scheduled to be executed Aug. 29, but Gov. Mike Rounds stopped it
just hours before because of a conflict between the 2-drug method written
in state law and a 3-drug combination that prison officials planned to
This past winter, lawmakers changed the law to let prison officials use
whatever lethal injection method they choose.
Mike Butler, Page's Sioux Falls attorney, said the governor and the state
Supreme Court chief justice have assured him that if Page wants to call
off the execution even moments before, his verbal request will be honored.
State and federal courts will be available to handle any issues that
arise, said Butler, who plans to watch the execution but won't restart the
appeals process unless Page directs him to.
"Truly the matter rests in Mr. Page's hands at this point," he said.
Butler said he has met with Page weekly but his client will not give any
interviews before the execution.
Last summer's stay surprised everyone and delayed closure for the victim's
mother, Dottie Poage of Rapid City, said John Fitzgerald, Lawrence County
"She had gotten herself emotionally and physically ready for the
execution," he told The Associated Press in an interview in Deadwood.
Poage has not talked publicly since. She plans to speak after the
execution, which she will view, said Fitzgerald, another witness.
Page has been housed in a newer wing of the South Dakota State
Penitentiary in Sioux Falls. At some point he'll be taken to a cell at the
old death row in an older part, on a hill overlooking the state's largest
The chamber has been remodeled since the last execution in the state,
although there are still holes in the floor from where the electric chair
was bolted down for George Sitts' April 1947 execution for killing 2
That crime happened not far from where Poage was killed.
Besides being the 1st person executed in South Dakota in 60 years, Page
would be among a handful of people his age or younger put to death since
capital punishment was reinstated in 1979. His case also is unusual
because a judge, not a jury, imposed a death sentence - and he has asked
Page's execution is set for the week of July 9. State law prevents the
exact date and time of execution to be released until 48 hours before.
The 7 years it took to get to that point started March, 13, 2000, with a
plan to steal from Poage, who thought he was with friends but was killed
so there wasn't a witness to the theft.
Page and Briley Piper of Anchorage, Alaska, were sentenced to death after
they pleaded guilty. The 3rd man, Darrell Hoadley of Lead, opted to stand
trial. He was convicted and a split jury sentenced him to life in prison.
Detectives had been investigating Page, Piper and Hoadley on suspicion
they planned to buy LSD and sell it in the Black Hills when the trio came
up with a plan to steal from Poage's house.
Judge Warren Johnson of Deadwood, who imposed the death sentences and
granted Page's request to die, called the killing vile and depraved. Even
Hoadley said he grew weary of all the blood.
The trio took Poage to a nearby gulch, and as he begged for his life, made
him remove most of his clothing and forced him into the snow and an icy
Piper stabbed Poage 3 times in the head and neck, and Page kicked Poage 30
to 40 times on the head, tearing his ears off, then hit him on the head
with large rocks. He was also forced to drink hydrochloric acid.
Hoadley said he hit Poage with 2 large rocks near the end of the attack,
which lasted at least 2 hours. He said he was afraid Piper and Page would
kill him if he interfered or tried to leave.
The 3 then stole a Chevy Blazer, stereo system, television, coin
collection, video game and other items from the Poage home. Poage's
battered body was found in the stream several weeks later.
Johnson granted Page's request to die after concluding he was mentally
competent to decide his fate. Johnson earlier had acknowledged Page's
difficult childhood that included physical and sexual abuse, and several
Page's sister, Desiree Page, said friends and family knew him as "a big
teddy bear with a huge heart" who is now remorseful.
Page, who is entitled to appeals that could last several more years, wrote
a letter last year indicating he wanted to die.
"I am writing this because I have decided to end my appeals and face
execution," said the handwritten letter.
South Dakota had the death penalty when it became a state in 1889 but
abolished it in 1915. Capital punishment was reinstated in 1939 but
abolished again from 1977 to 1979 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled
existing death penalty laws unconstitutional.
Another death penalty statute has been in place since 1979, and 2 other
men are on death row besides Page and Piper. Those cases, for Charles
Rhines and Donald Moeller, are in various stages of appeal, as is Piper's.
In all, South Dakota has had 15 recorded executions, with the first 4
occurring before statehood.
(source: Associated Press)
Standing Up For What You Believe----She's against the death penalty, and
she's not afraid to show it
Sue Merritt hates it, but she does it.
That's the amazing part.
Even though the Sioux Falls woman absolutely loathes, detests and despises
standing on a busy 41st Street intersection, holding a sign calling for an
end to the death penalty, she has done it almost every day for 2 weeks.
She hates the feeling of vulnerability as she stands there with her sign,
only the top of her face visible. She cringed when a passing driver
shouted out a profane remark. She feels enormous relief when her 25-minute
Then why does Merritt do it?
Because she hates-loathes-despises what South Dakota is preparing to do
She doesn't want the state to put a man to death, no matter what he's done
and no matter that he says he wants to die.
Sometime next week, Elijah Page is scheduled to die by lethal injection
for the 2000 death of Chester Poage.
Last year, on Page's first execution day, Merritt joined a modest number
of people who spent the day outside the South Dakota State Penitentiary
showing their opposition to the death penalty by their presence and with
This year, Merritt didn't want to wait until the day of Page's execution.
So she began her solitary vigil, carrying a sign that simply says "End the
It isn't just about Elijah Page, Merritt says. It's about following in
Don't ask Merritt to quote statistics or recite Bible verses. This is a
deep-in-her-gut thing, something she has believed in ardently since her
On March 24, 1967, Thomas White Hawk and another man broke into the home
of a Vermillion jeweler, James Yeado. Yeado's wife was raped; he was shot
in his bed and killed.
Merritt was not particularly interested in the world outside high school
at that point. But something about the fate of the killer, a young man not
much older than she was, stirred her soul.
"I think it was just the first thing I ever found out about that wasn't
right, and somebody had to do something about it," Merritt says.
She wrote her U.S. representatives and then-Gov. Frank Farrar. None of
them agreed with her position, although Farrar ended up commuting White
Hawk's sentence to life in prison. He died in 1997, at age 49, still
In the years since then, Merritt has found other passions. In fact, 1 of
her 3 children (not Matt, the one who's an editor here at the Argus
Leader), was recently asked what his mother did. He described the retired
band teacher as a protester.
But Merritt doesn't apologize for it.
She just puts on comfortable shoes, makes the short drive to 41st Street
and pulls her sign from the car. Then, for almost 30 minutes, Merritt
sings quietly or recites prayers as she protests the death penalty.
She feels great relief, Merritt confesses, when the time ends and she can
But she'll do it again the next day.
It's not because, as she's been accused of being, she's "too Catholic."
For many years, the Roman Catholic church was silent on the death penalty,
It's because for too many years she believed in a God, clutching a ruler
and a pencil, who kept track of the things a person did right.
Now Merritt is comforted by a more compassionate God.
"God really loves us, and he loves Elijah Page just as much as he loves
the Pope or anybody else," she says.
"He's just sitting right next to Elijah Page just as much as he is anybody
Merritt knows Page says he wants to die. But it's not his choice, she
"I can understand that he's had a horrible life, and he just sits there
with his thoughts 24/7, and I can understand it and sympathize, but it's
not his place to decide when he's going to die, or our place. I don't know
how he feels about God, but I just hope he knows (God's) standing right
On a day when Merritt couldn't protest, she wrote a letter to Gov. Mike
Rounds instead. She intends to do something anti-death penalty every day
until the execution happens or minds and hearts are changed.
She hopes what she is doing will at least get people to think about what
is scheduled to take place.
"I don't think they really stop and think about what's going on, what
they're doing," Merritt says.
"I mean, this guy is sitting here counting the days until he's going to
die. We're not just deciding when his life ends here, but we're deciding
when eternal life starts for him, and that's a big thing."
2 other men were involved in Poage's death, and one - Briley Piper - also
received the death penalty.
Merritt played piano at Christmas and Easter Mass at the penitentiary for
years. One holiday, she glimpsed Piper, a young man who didn't look old
enough yet to shave, walking down the hall in chains.
Merritt thinks about Piper, and Page, and Poage, on the days she stands on
a corner with a protest sign.
One day her thoughts were interrupted by a young woman who shouted "I'd
like to blow your (expletive) head off with a (expletive) gun."
That reaction doesn't happen often, but it did shake her.
"Being against the death penalty is not popular," Merritt said. "I think
people are afraid to speak out."
But, as much as she hates it, Merritt will continue to speak out. "I just
remember Jesus is right next to me."
(source: The Argus Leader)
John Delling Will Not Face Death Penalty
Serial shooting suspect John Delling will not face the death penalty in
Ada County. But he could still face life without parole for the shooting
death of Bradley Morse last April.
The 21-year old is also accused of killing 2 Idaho men and seriously
wounding another during a 6,000-mile road trip earlier this year.
The Ada County prosecutor says he's confident a jury will find Delling
After his trial in Ada County, Delling will be tried in Latah County for
the killing of his childhood friend, David Boss.
Prosecutors there could decide to seek an execution.
(source: Fox News)
Man taken off death row now eligible for parole
A man taken off death row because of an error in the wording of his
indictment is now eligible to be released on parole.
Richard Joseph was sentenced to death in the kidnapping and stabbing death
of the boyfriend of a young woman Joseph had dated.
After being removed from death row, the 36-year-old Joseph was resentenced
last month to 20 years to life in prison. A state prisons spokeswoman says
he becomes eligible for parole after serving two-thirds of that sentence.
Because Joseph has already served most of the sentence, he will have a
parole hearing July 25th. Parole officials will look at Joseph's crime and
his behavior in prison in determining whether he receives parole.
A prosecutor says he will strongly oppose parole.
(source: Associated Press)
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