[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----S. DAK., GA., NEB., OHIO
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Wed Jul 11 23:49:44 CDT 2007
Elijah Page is dead, prison official confirms
Prison officials moments ago confirmed that Elijah Page died by injection
shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, the 1st person executed in South Dakota
in 60 years.
With as many as 2 dozen witnesses looking on, the 25-year-old Athens,
Texas, man died after being administered a lethal combination of 3 drugs
at the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls.
"It was more like a medical procedure than a death," said one of the
witnesses, Rapid City Journal reporter Bill Harlan.
Page was asked whether he had any final words, and he declared "No."
The chemicals then flowed through his veins, witnesses said.
"I have no breathing, I have no heartbeat," a paramedic said, and Page was
declared dead at 10:11 p.m.
After the execution, the victim's mother held up a portrait of her son,
Chester Poage, as a child.
"I never dreamt I would be dealing with what I've been dealing with these
last 7 years," Poage said. "I'm proud of the state, the attorney general,
the governor, Area 1 of the state penitentiary, for doing a job well done.
I'm proud to be an American."
The 15th person executed in South Dakota since 1877, Page was put to death
for his role in the March 13, 2000, murder of Poage in Higgins Gulch
outside of Spearfish. The last man executed, George Sitts, was
electrocuted on April 8, 1947.
Outside the prison this evening, protesters showed up throughout the day.
By 9:30 p.m., there were 60 people opposing the death penalty and 10
His father, Kenneth Chapman, said before the execution that he visited his
son every day for the past week at the penitentiary and told him he loved
According to Chapman, his son was remorseful.
He wants everybody to know he feels bad for what happened. Hes not a
cold-hearted person like theyre making him out to be, Chapman said.
Page, Briley Piper and Darrell Hoadley were convicted of stabbing and
kicking Poage, bashing him with large rocks and forcing him to drink
hydrochloric acid. The torture lasted two to three hours. Hoadley received
life in prison. Piper also was sentenced to die and now sits on death row
with Charles Rhines and Donald Moeller.
Page's execution apparently had been scheduled for weeks to be at 10 p.m.
Tuesday. But Rounds' spokesman, Mitch Krebs, confirmed today that the
governor delayed it 24 hours out of respect for the family of Staff Sgt.
Robb Rolfing, killed June 30 in Baghdad and buried Tuesday at Woodlawn
Cemetery in Sioux Falls.
"The governor had a conversation with the Rolfings and came to the
conclusion that it (Tuesday) was Robb's day," Krebs said.
It was the 2nd delay in the execution. The governor postponed Page's
planned Aug. 29, 2006, execution because of concerns that a 1984 state law
requiring the use of 2 drugs for lethal injection could put prison
officials at legal risk if they instead administered a 3-drug combination
that now is considered standard.
State lawmakers amended the law the last legislative session to allow
prison officials to use whatever lethal injection mixture they choose.
Of the 38 states that have death penalty statutes, only 4 now have not
executed anybody, according to the Death Penalty Information Center, a
nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Those states are Kansas,
New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.
According to state law, Page will be buried in a cemetery within Minnehaha
Page becomes the 30th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the
USA and the 1087th overall since the nation resumed executions on January
(sources: Argus Leader & Rick Halperin)
South Dakota executes prison inmate for grisly torture slaying
The state of South Dakota carried out its 1st execution in 60 years
Wednesday night, taking the life of East Texas native Elijah Page, 25, for
a brutal torture slaying committed in 2000.
Page, of Athens, Texas, died at 10:11 p.m. from a lethal injection
administered at the South Dakota State Penitentiary.
He pleaded guilty to killing Chester Allan Poage, 19, of Spearfish, who
was stabbed, beaten with rocks and forced to drink hydrochloric acid
during a robbery of his home. The torture lasted 2 to 3 hours.
Page gave up his court appeals and requested to die.
Death penalty protesters gathered outside the penitentiary, displaying
signs with sayings such as "Choose life for Page" and "End the death
2 death penalty supporters' signs said "Justice" and "Remember Chester."
Gov. Mike Rounds postponed Page's planned Aug. 29, 2006, execution over
concerns about a conflict in state law that has since been changed.
Page is among a handful of people his age or younger put to death since
capital punishment was reinstated in the United States in 1979. His case
also is unusual because a judge, not a jury, imposed a death sentence --
and he asked to die.
Page, who was entitled to appeals that could have lasted many more years,
still had the legal right to resume those petitions even moments before
Page's regular visitors included attorney Mike Butler and family members.
"I love him with all my heart," Page's father, Kenneth Chapman of Texas,
said before the execution Wednesday.
Page and another death row inmate, Briley Piper, 25, of Anchorage, Alaska,
pleaded guilty to killing Poage. A third man, Darrell Hoadley, 26, of
Lead, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
According to testimony, the 3 killed Poage so there would be no other
witness to the theft of a Chevy Blazer, stereo, television, coin
collection, video game and other items from Poage's home in Spearfish.
The last person execution in South Dakota was April 8, 1947. George Sitts
was electrocuted in Sioux Falls for the Jan. 24, 1946, slayings of state
criminal agent Thomas Matthews and Butte County Sheriff Dave Malcolm near
(source: Associated Press)
1st death penalty protester speaks out
The 1st death penalty opponent showed up this hour at the prison in Sioux
Sam Lopez of Alvord, Iowa, who was here last year to witness the
eventually delayed execution of Elijah Page, said she always knew she'd
return this summer.
Page is now slated to be executed at 10 p.m. He was convicted in the
torture and murder of Chester Allan Poage.
"I wish something had happened and we'd outlawed the death penalty all
over the world," Lopez said this morning.
Lopez, 42, brought along a small wooden cross that read, "Would Jesus
Support the Death Penalty?" And she also brought a banner with colorful
She plans to protest all day, until the end.
She has a candle to light at the time of Page's death.
Lopez, a former Sioux Falls resident and convenience store clerk, said she
feels sad and disappointed yet hopeful.
"Sad because I don't believe in the death penalty at all. Disappointed
because the state is going to go through with the 1st execution in 60
years. There needs to be a better way to end violence than with more
violence," she said.
Lopez said she is hopeful there will be healing for the murder victim's
family and for all involved.
Lopez said she will be joined by family and friends later today.
Death penalty advocates also are expected to assemble at the prison today.
Prison officials warn against unrest
South Dakota State Penitentiary staff are handing out a one-sheet paper to
people who assemble on prison grounds, reminding them of key rules.
Staff have designated areas on the grounds for protesters and death
penalty supporters, saying its OK for people to demonstrate peacefully.
But they warn against any violence, weapons, alcohol, drugs, or any action
that interferes with prison operations, saying such actions could lead to
"Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can become confrontational
and possibly violent. Please follow the directions of penitentiary staff
or law enforcement should unrest occur," the paper reads.
Crowd outside prison grows to 60 demonstrators
The crowd gathered outside the South Dakota State Penitentiary had grown
to about 60 people by 8:45 p.m.
About 50 people protested against the death penalty on one side of metal
On the other side, about 10 people were in favor of executing Elijah Page.
Page was sentenced to die for his part in the torture and killing of
Chester Allan Poage, who was beaten and tortured in a gulch near Spearfish
in the northern Black Hills.
(source for all: Sioux Falls Argus Leader)
A Day Of Execution: The Business Of Killing
Tonight, if all goes as planned and comes off without another last-moment
hitch, South Dakota will get back into the business of killing people.
At about 10 p.m. this evening, the state is scheduled to kill convicted
murderer Elijah Page by lethal injection. It will be the 1st execution
this state has carried out in 60 years, thus an old chapter of our history
will become a new one.
That fact makes this day a sobering moment.
If this state must get back into the execution business, Page's case is
seemingly the most appropriate entry point. His crime was sadistic, and he
has chosen (at least as of this writing) not to pursue more appeals of his
death sentence. Only 11th-hour doubts last summer about the
constitutionality of the state's injection procedure created a stay of
that fate. The new day of judgment is upon us, or at least upon Page.
If this murderer does indeed have a death wish, who are we to stand in his
way? But in a longer view, what is scheduled to happen tonight is not
about one man or one crime.
Instead, it should be -- it must be -- about we as a people and how we
choose to dispense justice.
It has been 60 long years since our last execution, suggesting -- if not
screaming out -- that this is a form of justice that we do not embrace
lightly. Capital punishment has for generations stood as an extraordinary
threshold in our state's legal process.
But, what of tomorrow? If Page is put to death tonight, what comes next as
we look at other death-row cases, either pending or those yet to be
Will this form of punishment become an easier thing to embrace?
Will juries become more willing to buy prosecutorial arguments to put a
person to death for a crime? When Donald Moeller's murder case entered the
death-penalty phase in Yankton back in the early 1990s, that jury
reportedly wanted to consult a Bible while debating the issue. Will such
willful deliberation become less necessary as other convicted killers
await their fates?
No one knows right now.
But those cases that await will not involve the details tied to this case
-- details that seem to make this matter easier to see to its grim but,
arguably, fair conclusion.
And none of this takes into account the growing tide of new doubts about
capital punishment sentences, thanks to advances in DNA testing. Some
states are reexamining their death penalties; it is odd, perhaps, that
South Dakota gets back into such business just as others are considering
getting out of it.
One thing that's clear is that, barring any last-second surprises, things
will change tonight. We are stepping across a cold, harsh threshold -- one
that is necessary in some minds, unacceptable in others -- where life and
death will become matters of state concern.
Perhaps executing Page is the appropriate thing to do. If so, we should
not feel satisfied to inflict this justice. Instead, we should be saddened
and angered that we must resort to it. And we must hope that the same
careful, cautious examination of the practice that has prevailed here for
so long will continue, at least in spirit, as we proceed forward.
(source: Yankton Post)
Will Moeller's Appeal Again Affect Execution?
Elijah Page has chosen to die.
But if he didn't decide to end all his appeals, Page's case could someday
be helped by another death row inmate.
Paperwork filed in Donald Moeller's appeal last year prompted a temporary
stay in Page's execution.
Moeller is on death row for raping and killing 9-year-old Becky O'Connell.
Last year, his lawyer Mark Marshall pointed out the procedure outlined in
state law uses two drugs in the lethal injection, while prison staff
intended to use three drugs in any execution it carries out.
Now, in Moeller's appeal, Marshall argues the old 2-drug law was
unconstitutional, and asks a judge to rule that anyone sentenced to death
under the old law should now receive life in prison. So, we examined
whether new papers filed could affect the execution once again.
After Gov. Mike Rounds delayed Elijah Page's execution last year, he wrote
a letter with his reasoning. He states that inmates in other states
executed using the 2-drug lethal injection cocktail took up to an hour to
die, and they did not do so peacefully.
Death row inmate Donald Moeller's lawyer Mark Marshall argues that this is
evidence that South Dakota's old 2-drug lethal injection procedure is
"cruel and unusual." Therefore, Marshall argues a judge should rule the
old law unconstitutional.
And if that's done, Marshall believes, according to South Dakota law,
anyone sentenced to death under that 2-drug statute should instead receive
life in prison.
If a judge agrees with Marshall, that would likely affect not only
Moeller, but every inmate currently on South Dakota's death row, including
But Attorney General Larry Long says it's not an issue that will stop
tomorrow's execution. Because Elijah Page has made a conscious decision
not to fight it.
And if Page goes through his scheduled execution, he'll be dead long
before a ruling on the Moeller appeal comes down.
Attorney General Long says even if Moeller or another death row inmate
wins an appeal like this, he does not believe Page's family would be able
to sue the state for wrongful death. Right now, there is no hearing
scheduled in the Moeller appeal.
(source: KELOLAND TV News)
11th-hour plea for Georgia inmate's life----Activists urge officials to
look at new evidence pointing to Troy Davis' innocence in a 1989 police
With a Bible under her arm, Virginia Davis on Tuesday led human rights
advocates to the building that houses Georgia's Board of Pardon and
Paroles. All she wants, she said, is for someone to listen to the facts in
her son's case before it's too late.
Troy Anthony Davis, 38, convicted of the murder of a Savannah police
officer, is scheduled to be executed next week.
Yet a growing number of human rights activists are urging Georgia
officials to consider new evidence that might prove his innocence. Thus
far, state appeals courts have declined to hear his case.
Since Davis' 1991 trial, which was based entirely on witness testimony,
seven of the nine witnesses who implicated Davis have renounced or
contradicted their trial testimony, with many claiming they were
intimidated by police.
One of the two remaining witnesses, defense attorneys say, is a principal
suspect, who has himself been incriminated by 9 witnesses.
"We have the evidence," said Virginia Davis, 62. "All we need is someone
Davis appears to be caught in legal limbo. His initial state habeas corpus
petition was handled by attorneys from an underfunded defender
organization that lacked the resources to investigate his case. After
that, his petition was denied on the grounds that evidence of police
coercion of witnesses was "procedurally defaulted," meaning it should have
been raised earlier.
"I think it's a sad day in Georgia that they're willing to try and kill
an innocent man," Davis said in a rare telephone interview with reporters
Monday. "I don't want to die, especially for a crime I didn't commit."
Davis' case, legal experts say, is a stark reminder of the legal hurdles
death row inmates must overcome, particularly in Georgia, which, like
Alabama, does not guarantee death row inmates counsel for appeals.
Last year, experts from Georgia's legal community produced a report,
sponsored by the American Bar Assn., recommending that Georgia impose a
moratorium on executions because the state could not ensure fairness and
accuracy in every capital case. Among other things, it cited racial
disparity in capital sentencing, with those convicted of killing whites
4.5 times more likely to be sentenced to death as those convicted of
In this case, the officer killed was white; Davis is black.
The state parole board is scheduled to hear an appeal for clemency from
Davis' lawyers Monday, a day before Davis is set to be executed by lethal
injection at a state prison in Jackson, Ga.
On Tuesday, scores of activists joined Davis' family, attorneys and two
trial witnesses to deliver 4,000 letters of support. The Rev. Desmond
Tutu, a Nobel Prize winner, and singer Harry Belafonte are among those who
support a rehearing.
"We are here because the death penalty is a runaway train," said Larry
Cox, executive director of Amnesty International USA. "It renders a
defendant virtually helpless in the face of such machinery as incompetent
defense, prosecutorial misconduct, racial and class bias, and mishandled
or ignored evidence."
It was just before 1 a.m. on Aug. 19, 1989, when Savannah police Officer
Mark Allen MacPhail was shot twice as he responded to reports of a
disturbance outside a Greyhound bus station.
With no physical evidence the weapon used in the crime was never found
the case rested on witnesses. The first man to implicate Davis was
Sylvester "Red" Coles, who went to the police with a lawyer soon after the
Coles has now been implicated by 9 witnesses.
Davis' appeal lawyers argue that the Savannah Police Department, caught up
in the emotion of the crime, rushed to judgment, and that Davis' trial
counsel did not sufficiently investigate the state's evidence.
Davis' initial state habeas corpus appeal was handled by attorneys from
the Georgia Resource Center, whose budget was slashed in 1995 by the
federal government. In an affidavit, Davis' former attorney, Beth Wells,
said "the lack of adequate resources and the numerous intervening crises"
made effective representation impossible.
Since then, Davis' appeals have been limited by a 1996 federal law, the
Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which allows appeals only
in very narrow circumstances.
Last year, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals denied Davis' petition for
rehearing, arguing that he had not "borne his burden to establish a viable
claim that his trial was constitutionally unfair."
"The execution of an innocent man is not unconstitutional," said Jason
Ewart, Davis' attorney, "so we face an uphill battle."
(source: Los Angeles Times)
Lawyers seek new trial for Troy Davis
Attorneys racing to spare the life of condemned murderer Troy Anthony
Davis say there is now "substantial evidence" to show another man murdered
police officer Mark Allen MacPhail.
An extraordinary motion for new trial filed in Chatham County Superior
Court on Monday charges Sylvester "Red" Coles murdered MacPhail.
The motion is considered extraordinary because an initial new-trial motion
already has been denied. The new motion is limited and specialized in that
it requires specific guidelines to be granted.
A companion motion would stay Davis' execution, scheduled for 7 p.m.
Tuesday, to allow a superior court judge to hear evidence and rule.
Prosecutors on Tuesday urged the court to summarily dismiss the motion and
the stay request, arguing they were filed for the purpose of delay.
A jury before Judge James W. Head convicted Davis in 1991 of killing
MacPhail, shot to death while working off-duty security at the Greyhound
Bus Terminal/Burger King restaurant.
Head has since retired, and Judge Penny Haas Freesemann, who inherited his
case load, would schedule any hearings.
No hearing date has been scheduled nor a stay of execution issued.
The new motion, filed by attorney Thomas Dunn, of the Georgia Resource
Center, contains language similar to a filing that seeks clemency from the
state Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The resource center is a state-funded office whose mission is to ensure
all death-penalty inmates in Georgia are represented by attorneys.
Lawyers: Wrong man has been convicted
"This is a case of mistaken identity," the motion filed Tuesday asserts.
It then points the finger at Coles.
Coles, who was never charged in the case, implicated Davis.
"No judge or jury, however, has ever examined petitioner Troy Davis'
compelling new evidence to determine if he is innocent," the motion
It states new evidence "also offers recantation from every prosecution
witness that the jury could have found credible."
Because the motion "alleges sufficient facts to state a claim for relief,
the trial court is required to hold a hearing," the motion said.
The newly acquired evidence consists of seven key trial witness
recantations, evidence of multiple post-trial confessions by Coles and the
testimony of a witness who observed Cole murder MacPhail, the motion
"The plethora of evidence that has amassed since trial exonerating Troy
Davis has never been addressed by a court," the motion states.
"The risk of ignoring such evidence is great, both for Troy Davis and his
family, as well as for the city of Savannah," the motion states.
Prosecutors: Motions are just for delay
But, Chief Assistant District Attorney David Lock responded Tuesday that
the defense had not exercised due diligence in bringing the motion.
District Attorney Spencer Lawton Jr. joined in the response.
The same affidavits offered by the defense "have been presented to other
courts and found insufficient to materially affect the verdict in this
case," Lock wrote.
Moreover, Lock said, the affidavits merely impeach the credibility of
witnesses and fail to meet another requirement for the grant of an
6 of the affidavits dated in 1995 or 1996, were presented at earlier state
hearings and 14, some of which were duplicates, were presented in federal
courts in 2001 and 2002, the response states.
"Clearly, defendant has brought these motions for the purpose of delay,"
Lock wrote. "The defendant waited to bring this motion until the eve of
his execution solely to thwart justice."
(source: Savannah Morning News)
State Board of Pardons and Paroles
2 Martin Luther King Jr Drive, SE
Suite 458, Balcony Level, East Tower
Atlanta, GA. 30334-4909
Re: Troy Davis
Dear Chairperson Hunt and Boardmembers -
On behalf of Russell Simmons, Valeisha Butterfield, and the Hip-Hop Summit
Action Network, I'm writing to add our voices and organization to the
thousands of human rights leaders from around the world who are calling
for the sparing of the life of Troy Davis in the state of Georgia. We are
opposed to capital punishment. In particular, in the case of Troy Davis,
serious questions have been raised concerning his possible innocence in
the alleged charges. The state of Georgia should not execute Troy Davis.
We believe in equal justice and fairness for all people. A violation of
the human rights of Troy Davis is a violation of human rights for all
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis
President, Hip-Hop Summit Action Network
(source : ThugLifeArmy.com)
Activists ask 4,000 times for killer to get clemency----The man convicted
of shooting a police officer is scheduled for execution.
Human-rights activists and supporters for convicted killer Troy Anthony
Davis turned in 4,000 letters Tuesday asking state officials to grant
clemency for the Savannah man scheduled for execution next week.
Davis has been on death row for 15 years for the fatal shooting of an
off-duty police officer in 1989.
His attorneys have filed appeals, pointing out several witnesses who
testified against Davis, 38, have reversed their statements and said they
were pressured to point the blame at Davis.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected a request to review the case.
Mark Allen MacPhail was shot while trying to break up a fight at a
Greyhound bus station in Savannah. The 27-year-old father of two had been
working in a private security job.
2 years later, a jury convicted Davis for the slaying.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will hold a clemency hearing
Monday, the day before Davis is scheduled to die by lethal injection.
"If the board looks this case with fresh eyes, its members will see the
complete absence of physical evidence and the now-recanted testimony that
was the basis for Mr. Davis' conviction," Larry Cox, executive director of
Amnesty International USA, said during a news conference.
"Our intent is not to add to the terrible pain that was so cruelly
inflicted upon the MacPhail family years ago. As a human-rights
organization, we cannot ignore one injustice as we highlight another."
MacPhail's widow, Joan, recently told the Savannah Morning News she plans
to attend the clemency hearing and said she supported the death-penalty
sentence at the trial.
An "extraordinary motion" for a new trial also is pending in Chatham
County Superior Court, but Davis' attorneys said they are placing most of
their hopes for a last-minute stay with the clemency board.
"The parole board is the failsafe," said Davis' lawyer, Jason Ewart.
Tonya Johnson, a witness in the case, signed one of the letters presented
to the Pardons and Paroles office Tuesday.
"They need to free him because he didn't do it," said Johnson, who
attended the event near the state Capitol.
Johnson was on a porch near the bus station when the shooting happened.
She said she saw another man dump guns in an empty house nearby after the
shooting but did not tell police.
About a year after the trial, Johnson said she told a family member who
knew Davis about what she saw that night.
"My cousin told me, 'Don't be afraid,' " said Johnson, who then approached
Besides signed letters from Johnson and other witnesses, several prominent
anti-death activists also penned letters, including Sister Helen Prejean,
who wrote Dead Man Walking about her experiences with death-row inmates.
Bishop Kevin Boland of the Diocese of Savannah also sent a letter calling
"Over 100 people in the U.S., 6 of whom are in Georgia, have been wrongly
convicted of murder," he wrote. "It is in the best interests of all of us
that the circumstances surrounding this case be heard in order to prevent
the execution of an innocent man."
Convicted Killer Pleads For Clemency
A spokeswoman for the Board of Pardons and Parole said the board will base
its decision on clemency for death row inmate Troy Davis on the facts and
"will not be swayed by public pressure."
The statement Tuesday came after human rights advocates armed with
evidence they say has been ignored gathered near the board's office to ask
the panel to spare the life of Davis, who is scheduled to be executed next
A clemency hearing won't be held until Monday, but Davis' supporters said
they want the board to have now the 4,000 letters written by people from
around the world who believe Davis deserves a reprieve.
Absent a reprieve or a successful last-minute court appeal, the
38-year-old Davis will be given a lethal injection on Tuesday, July 17.
His attorneys say they have new evidence that another man, Sylvester
Coles, killed Savannah police Officer Mark MacPhail on August 19, 1989.
They say they have affidavits from 3 new witnesses showing Coles was the
shooter, not Davis.
(source: The Associated Press)
Defendant in death penalty case wants to move trial----A defendant accused
of the brutal deaths of 6 Tift County farmworkers is asking that his trial
Law enforcement officials intentionally spread false information about a
defendant in one of the states most vicious murder sprees, his attorney
In a change of venue motion filed in May and recently unsealed by Chief
Tift Superior Court Judge Gary McCorvey, Jamie Underwoods attorney, Dennis
Francis Jr., contends that law enforcement officials were partially
responsible for the spread of "untruths" and "misleading" information to
Underwood is 1 of 5 defendants accused in the beating deaths of 6 Hispanic
farm workers in September 2005. The state is seeking the death penalty
against Underwood, Stacey Sims, Thomas Mathis, Jennifer Wilson and Emma
"Obviously, a jury drawn from a pool tainted by such misstatements and
incorrect information would not be able to provide the defendant with a
fair trial," Francis writes. "Additionally, it seems that law enforcement
agents have been responsible for the spread of some of these untruths and
The documents were unsealed after McCorvey rescinded a verbal order he
issued earlier this month that prohibited public access to all of the
court proceedings regarding the case.
Francis is asking McCorvey to move the trial out of Tift County because of
what he called the increased likelihood for bias of jurors because of
pre-trial publicity the case has generated.
Florindo Mauricio, Armando Martinez, Mateo Gomez, Jose Luis Gomez, Felipe
Esparza and Guadalupe Sanchez were all killed during the overnight hours
of Sept. 30, 2005. Some were brutally beaten to death with baseball bats,
others were shot during what investigators speculated was a series of
home-invasion style robberies.
(source: Albany Herald)
Davis lawyers: Wrong man convicted
A local jury in 1991 convicted the wrong man in the slaying of Mark Allen
MacPhail, attorneys for condemned killer Troy Anthony Davis have told
state parole officials.
And, the lawyers argue, no court has ever examined the "compelling
evidence" of Davis' innocence.
"In the simplest of terms, this is a case of mistaken identity," Davis'
attorneys argued in a petition filed Monday with the Georgia Board of
Pardons and Paroles.
"Since Mr. Davis' trial, substantial evidence has surfaced that shows not
only that Troy Davis is innocent, but that Sylvester 'Red' Coles murdered
"No judge or jury, however, has ever examined Troy Davis' compelling new
evidence to determine if he is innocent," the petition says.
The petition was filed a day before attorneys filed a motion for a new
trial for Davis in Chatham County Superior Court, again contending that
the wrong man was convicted.
MacPhail, a Savannah police officer working off-duty security at the
Greyhound Bus Terminal/Burger King restaurant on Oglethorpe Avenue, was
shot twice as he tried to stop a fight early Aug. 19, 1989.
A jury convicted Davis on murder and related charges Aug. 28, 1991. They
recommended the death sentence.
Davis, 38, has exhausted his appeals and is scheduled to be executed by
lethal injection on Tuesday at the Georgia Diagnostic and Classification
Prison at Jackson.
The 5-member state Board of Pardons and Paroles will hear Davis' last plea
during a clemency hearing beginning at 9 a.m. Monday in Atlanta.
Attorneys Jason Ewart and Danielle Garten of Washington, D.C., are seeking
a 90-day stay of execution to permit consideration of their application or
commutation of his death sentence.
They will meet privately Monday with board members to plead their case.
Their petition includes arguments that seven of nine prosecution witnesses
have recanted or contradicted their trial testimony.
The petition also includes assertions that two trial jurors "stated the
new evidence caused such 'lingering doubt' about Davis' guilt and 'genuine
concern' over the fairness of his sentence that they now believe that Troy
Davis should not be executed."
The filing includes 30 affidavits or statements to support their case.
"The police department's high-profile commitment to the theory that Troy
Davis shot Officer MacPhail precluded any investigation of Coles," the
petition states. "Instead, the police used overly-suggestive, unreliable
tactics that produced dubious identifications."
According to the defense petition, three new witnesses say Coles was the
Additional eyewitnesses say "that, in stark contrast to the trial
evidence, Red Coles was carrying a gun when Larry Young was pistol-whipped
and Officer MacPhail was shot."
"In the years since Red Coles implicated Troy Davis in the MacPhail
shooting, 5 new witnesses have implicated Coles as the shooter," the
One state witness, Harriett Murray, contradicted her testimony at trial in
which she identified Davis as the shooter.
But a later affidavit is consistent with her police statement and her
preliminary hearing testimony, the petition states.
"Each of the three witnesses who testified that Troy Davis confessed to
the shooting has now admitted their testimony was a complete fabrication
... or a product of police coercion," the petition states.
Those included ex-inmate Kevin McQueen, Jeffery Sapp and Monty Holmes, who
the petition said "ducked trial."
And, the petition states, "Since trial, Red Coles has admitted to 3
separate individuals that he - not Troy Davis - murdered Officer
Given the evidence presented in the petition, the lawyers argue, "Mr.
Davis requests that the board use its fail-safe executive clemency
authority to recognize that - in the face of substantial doubt - execution
is not the answer."
Finally, the petition states, "Troy's family support him unconditionally
and ask the board, in its mercy, to spare his life."
35 executions since 1973
50 clemency hearings have been granted.
8 commutations have been granted. The most recent:
On Jan. 26, 2004, by majority vote the board commuted the sentence of
Willie James Hall (EF# 235101) to life without parole.
(source: Savannah Morning News)
Lawyers join senator in challenging use of electric chair
Nebraska's death row inmates
Lawyers for 5 of Nebraska's death row inmates joined State Sen. Ernie
Chambers in court Tuesday to challenge whether rules for using the
electric chair were properly developed under state law.
Chambers said after the court hearing that the proposed method, a
20-second application of high-voltage electricity, won't kill the
condemned and could set them on fire.
He said the state prison system should develop formal rules for the
electric chair, notifying the Legislature and conducting a public hearing
on the proposals. The governor and attorney general would have to sign off
on the rules under the state's Administrative Procedure Act.
Lancaster County District Judge Earl Witthoff gave the attorneys until
mid-August to submit written arguments in the lawsuit.
J. Kirk Brown of the Nebraska Attorney General's Office represented the
state at the brief hearing. Attorney General Jon Bruning has said that
under state law, electric chair rules are not required to be formal
The death row inmates who have joined Chambers' lawsuit include Carey Dean
Moore, whose death warrant was issued and then withdrawn this spring by
the Nebraska Supreme Court.
Nebraska has not executed anyone since 1997.
The Nebraska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in September
challenging the electric chair as cruel and unusual punishment, a
violation of federal and state constitutions.
The high court declared in May that the state could not execute Moore
before it had answered that question. Its ruling on the electric chair
could come down before Witthoff's rules decision.
Jerry Soucie of Lincoln, a lawyer representing death row inmates Raymond
Mata Jr. and Erick F. Vela, has been trying to get the electric chair
declared unconstitutional since 2000.
Soucie said the Department of Correctional Services keeps "moving the goal
posts" by changing the electric chair procedures without notice.
In 3 executions carried out in the 1990s, officials used a 4-jolt method
that alternated high- and low-voltage current. After 2000, it adopted a
method using a 15-second high-voltage jolt.
Chambers was notified this spring that the jolt's duration had been
extended to 20 seconds.
These 5 death row inmates asked for permission to join the Omaha
Mata, 34, who killed and dismembered 3-year-old Adam Gomez of Scottsbluff
in 1999 and fed his remains to a dog.
Vela, 26, who was convicted in a failed 2002 bank robbery in Norfolk
where five people were shot to death.
Jose Sandoval, 27, who also was convicted in the 5 murders in the Norfolk
bank. He is represented by Norfolk attorney Ron Temple.
Moore, 49, who was sentenced to die for the 1979 slayings of Reuel Van
Ness Jr. and Maynard Helgeland in Omaha. Moore previously had halted all
appeals. He is represented by Lincoln lawyer Alan Peterson.
David Dunster, 52, who was convicted of strangling his cellmate, Larry
Witt of Grand Island, in 1997. He had been convicted of killing a cellmate
in Montana and of raping and murdering a woman in Oregon. His attorney is
Peter Blakeslee of Lincoln.
(source: Omaha World-Herald)
Inmates Want to Join Execution Lawsuit
Attorneys representing 5 death row inmates asked a district court judge
Tuesday if they could join a lawsuit filed by Omaha Senator Ernie Chambers
challenging the state's electric chair protocol.
Now, attorneys representing the state, Chambers, and death row inmates
Erick Vela, Raymond Mata, Carey Dean Moore, Jose Sandoval and David
Dunster will file briefs by mid-August on the challenge.
The sides will argue whether the prison systems properly followed
procedures when it changed the execution protocol in 2004. They'll also
file briefs on whether attorneys for the inmates can join the challenge
and whether Chambers can bring the case to court.
Chambers says the Department of Correctional Services didn't follow proper
procedures when it changed protocols for the electric chair.
(source: Associated Press)
OHIO: Prosecutor threatens judge with legal action----Lethal injection at
issue in shooting trial
If county Common Pleas Judge James Burge goes ahead with a hearing on
whether the state's lethal injection method passes constitutional muster,
he could find himself with a different legal fight on his hands. Assistant
County Prosecutor Tony Cillo told Burge Monday that if the judge decides
that he has the power to hold the hearing, hell ask the Ohio Supreme Court
to halt it.
"I'd probably file a writ of prohibition with the Ohio Supreme Court
saying youd overstepped your bounds," he said.
If granted, such a writ would prevent Burge from holding the hearing
defense attorneys for Ruben Rivera are seeking that could remove the death
penalty from consideration if Rivera is ultimately convicted of aggravated
murder in the Aug. 13, 2004, shooting death of Manuel Garcia. Prosecutors
have argued that the issue shouldn't even be reviewed by Burge because
Rivera hasn't been convicted and whether the death penalty constitutes
cruel and unusual punishment is a matter for the appeals courts, not a
Cillo also said that Ohio's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union,
whose legal director, Jeff Gamso, is one of Rivera's attorneys, could be
using Riveras case to get information from the state on the execution
process that it could use in its other legal fights to abolish the death
penalty in Ohio.
"My fear is they're using this case as a soapbox to oppose the death
penalty," Cillo said.
Gamso argued that if Burge rules the death penalty is unconstitutional,
the judge couldnt allow execution to be considered by a jury as a penalty.
"The question is can a death sentence be carried out if the only means of
execution in the state of Ohio is unconstitutional?" Gamso asked.
Burge said he will make a decision in the next few weeks on whether hell
go forward with the full hearing, now set for July 30. In the meantime, he
ordered the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to comply
with a previous order he issued to turn over records sought by defense
attorneys for an expert to review.
Last month, the state prison system asked Burge to clarify where he got
the authority to order them to turn over anything, but Burge ruled Monday
that since the prisons are part of the state government and the case is
being tried as the State of Ohio vs. Ruben Rivera, he has the power to
order them to produce evidence.
Burge did agree that he can't force the prison system to create any
documents for the case, but he also held that if the information is
available which he believes most of it is that it must be given to
Gamso said after the hearing that the information the expert needs
ranging from an equipment list to maintenance and training procedures to
the layout of the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility
in Lucasville is vital.
"Things like distance and angles matter," he said.
For instance, he said, it would take more pressure to pump the lethal
3-drug cocktail through 17 feet of tubing than 1 feet of tubing, Gamso
said. He also said kinks in the line could slow the flow of the drugs,
prolonging death for a condemned inmate. If that happens, a sedative used
in the process could wear off and leave the dying inmate conscious, but
unable to move as he suffocates and suffers a heart attack, he said.
County Prosecutor Dennis Will said the U.S. Supreme Court already has
upheld Ohio's death penalty and the issue of whether Ohio's lethal
injection process is torture already is being considered in a federal
lawsuit by several Ohio death row inmates.
More information about the DeathPenalty