[Deathpenalty] death penalty news-----S.DAK., TENN., PENN., MO.
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Sun Jul 15 09:48:35 CDT 2007
Waiting for Justice
3 inmates remain on death row in South Dakota. One of those men is Donald
Moeller, who was sentenced to die 10 years before Elijah Page for killing
9 year-old Becky O'Connell of Sioux Falls.
Becky's parents moved to New York shortly after her death in 1990 and
buried her there.
In a KSFY exclusive, Kent Erdahl talked to Becky O'Connell's mother Tina
Curl about the execution of Elijah Page, and her own wait for justice.
Tina Curl says she's been waiting for justice, since the day Donald
Moeller was arrested for killing her daughter in 1990, which is why word
of Elijah Page's execution is hard for her to take.
"It should have been him executed," Curl says, "It's been 17 years. My
daughter has been dead longer than she was alive."
Becky O'Connell was last seen alive at Omer's Market in Sioux Falls on May
8, 1990. After an intense two day search, investigators found her body in
a wooded area near Lake Alvin in Lincoln County. Her body showed signs of
rape and she had stab wounds.
It's been more than 17 years since Tina Curl identified her daughters
body. But she says she struggles with Becky's death just as much today as
she did then.
"Time don't make the pain go away," she says, "and it doesn't bring her
back. It doesn't get easier. What do we got? We've got a grave to go up
and sit and talk to."
Tina says she's not confident Wednesday's execution of Elijah Page will
help speed Donald Moellers sentence along, because unlike Elijah Page, she
doesn't believe Moeller will ever give up his appeals.
"He's too much of a coward to give up his," Curl says. "He's afraid of
dying, but he didn't think twice about my daughter dying."
Tina says she won't be satisfied until Moeller pays for the crime with his
life, but says she is happy to hear that another mother finally got the
resolution she had waited for.
"I know it's hard to lose a kid, and she ought to feel a little better
anyway knowing that the one that killed hers is dead too, but it still
doesn't bring them back," Curl says.
Donald Moeller's appeals have taken longer than most, because he was
re-sentenced in 1997 after the South Dakota Supreme Court reversed his
(source: KSFY News)
Ex-death row inmate to speak at St. Mary's----Innocent man freed after
spending 17 years behind bars
A former Florida death row inmate will speak about his experiences at St.
Mary's Catholic Church on Sunday. Juan Melendez also will join a coalition
of Jackson faith leaders and the local NAACP for an afternoon press
conference Sunday at Mother Liberty Church, according to a Friday press
Melendez was released from Florida's death row in 2002 after spending more
than 17 years under a death sentence for a crime he did not commit, the
He became the 99th death row inmate to be exonerated and freed in the
modern death penalty era.
Since that time, Melendez has traveled across the country speaking about
his experiences, the release said.
Melendez comes to Tennessee at a crucial time for death penalty reform as
the state legislature recently passed a study commission bill to
thoroughly examine the death penalty over the next year, the release said.
As a state, Tennessee is moving forward in death penalty reform, but some
jurisdictions are not satisfied. Tennessee's two largest counties, Shelby
and Davidson, both passed resolutions calling on Governor Bredesen to
enact a moratorium while the study commission is in effect, the release
A coalition of religious leaders, the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People and concerned citizens has been formed to
call on the Jackson City Council to enact a similar resolution.
Juan Melendez will offer remarks at the press conference, along with the
NAACP Jackson chapter's president and faith leaders, at 3 p.m.
Melendez will be speaking at 6:00 p.m. at St. Mary's church about his
(source: Jackson Sun)
Judge: Grave risk justifies death penalty
A Northampton County judge ruled that a gang member facing murder charges
can face the death penalty on only 1 of the aggravating factors cited
The district attorney's office filed the notice of aggravating factors
against Andrew D. Pascal, 22, in August 2006. The notice said prosecutors
were seeking the death penalty because Pascal created a grave risk of
death to the victim and others and also because of his history of felony
Defense attorneys Mark Refowich and Victor E. Scomillio said Pascal has
only one felony conviction, which does not qualify as an aggravating
factor for the death penalty.
Terry Houck, the first deputy district attorney, said Judge Edward G.
Smith's ruling was made "pretty much without objection."
"At the time that was filed, he had a record but we weren't sure what that
entailed," Houck said. It turned out Pascal's record did not contain a
significant criminal history, he said.
Prosecutors will be permitted to seek the death penalty on the grounds
that Pascal created grave risk to others when he allegedly opened fire
outside Larry Holmes Ringside Sports Bar and Lounge on May 14, 2006,
killing 29-year-old Marcelus McDuffie.
Police say Pascal is a member of the Cash Money Boys street gang. His
co-defendant, Jorge Orlando Velasquez, 27, of the 900 block of Butler
Street, faces similar charges. Prosecutors say Velasquez drove while
Pascal shot at McDuffie.
Their trial is set to begin Sept. 10.
(source: The Express-Times)
Death penalty opponents seeking case of innocent's execution
Death penalty opponents had pegged their hopes on a Missouri case as clear
evidence that an innocent person was executed.
Such a case, they hoped, would finally turn public and political sentiment
But St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce announced Thursday that the
right man, Larry Griffin, had been executed in the 1980 drive-by killing
of Quintin Moss.
Joyce had reinvestigated the case after a 2005 report by the NAACP Legal
Defense and Educational Fund raised questions about Larry Griffin's guilt.
Her decision leaves opponents still seeking the ultimate case.
"They are looking so desperately for that case," Joshua Marquis, a board
member for the National District Attorneys Association, told the St. Louis
"I'm not so arrogant to believe there won't be a day when it will come.
It's very unlikely, but not impossible."
A clear case of the execution of an innocent person in the recent past
would refute U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's declaration last
year that there has not been "a single case not one in which it is clear
that a person was executed for a crime he did not commit."
University of Michigan law school professor Samuel R. Gross, who led the
fund investigation in the Griffin case, thinks wrongful executions already
have been proved.
"I think there are cases where it's clear-cut," he said, citing both
Griffin's case and a case in Bexar County, Texas. But prosecutors and
other death penalty supporters do not want to admit that innocents have
been executed, he said.
The Death Penalty Information Center says 124 people have been exonerated
from death row.
"Many of these exonerations came frighteningly close to their execution
date," said Colleen Cunningham, of Missourians to Abolish the Death
Penalty. "Errors clearly abound in death penalty cases."
A poll this year shows that most Americans 87 % believe that an innocent
person already has been executed. But only 55 % said it had affected their
opinion about the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty
"Some people still think executing an innocent person is collateral
damage," said David Elliot, of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death
Elliot said he thinks the death penalty will be abolished only when the
public decides it's not worth the trouble.
"People are going to have to see it collapse under its biases, blunders
and bureaucracy," he said.
Some say public support for the death penalty already is eroding.
The Death Penalty Information Center says executions, death sentences in
state courts and the death row population all dropped between 1999 and
Perceptions about the death penalty may be affected by unfair news
coverage of new investigations into executions, said Marquis, the district
attorney in Clatsop County, Ore., who speaks across the country about the
"In all fairness to reporters, it isn't news when the expected happens,"
Marquis said. "But it's intellectual dishonesty in the death penalty
debate when they just fall off the radar."
Death penalty opponents say independent commissions, rather than
prosecutors, should review cases like Griffin's.
"Here we have the prosecutors reviewing their own work," Gross said. "I
can't imagine anything more self-serving."
But Joyce and other prosecutors say the cases already have been reviewed
multiple times by the courts, and often reviewed again by the prosecutor's
office when concerns are raised.
(source: Associated Press)
Convicted Murderer Receives Death Penalty Again
A man who had 2 death sentences against him reversed by the Missouri
Supreme Court was found guilty today of murder. For a 3rd time, a jury in
St. Louis County court sentenced Vincent McFadden to death.
Earlier in the day on Friday, the same jury found McFadden guilty of
murdering Todd Franklin in 2002 in Pine Lawn. Franklin planned on
testifying against 2 of McFadden's friends who were implicated in a
shooting. McFadden received the death penalty for Franklin's murder in
2005 and another death sentence a year later for the murder of Leslie
Addison. But, the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the convictions and
ordered new trials after deciding there was racial bias during jury
Franklin's mother, Patricia, says more witnesses to crimes need to come
"My son gave up his life to step forward for something. I'm not saying
everyone should do that. You know what your heart feels and what your
heart tells you and if you know that person is out there, even if they are
behind bars, you have to make the conscious decision because you have to
live with yourself," said Patricia.
St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch was in the courtroom when the
verdict was read. "Guys like McFadden make neighborhoods uninhabitable and
we want to target them and get rid of them and I couldn't be more pleased
this jury agreed with the other two in sentencing him to death because he
McFadden will stand trial for a 2nd time in March for Leslie Addison's
(source: KSDK news)
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